30 May 2011

REVIEW: The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger

by Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy
07 September 2010
288 Pages

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

R E V I E W :
I really liked this book. Maybe I even love it (I'm pulling a Bianca). Bianca, the main character and Little Miss Cynical, refused to believe that a teenage girl at the tender age of 17 can truly be in love. In fact, she refuses to believe to the very end. Which brings us to the ending. Which is my favorite kind of ending. 

All the characters (not just the two main ones) were very well developed and had their own problems but not to the point of being in danger of being a soap drama. Kody Keplinger really brought the characters alive for me and I came to care and sympathize with them all. By the ending of the story, all the characters were working through their problems and well on their way to the allusive happy ending, but not quite there yet. There was no tidy Cinderella ending where Bianca and Wesley marry or something absurd like that, such as Bianca's mother, who was MIA for several months, coming home and rekindling her crumbling marriage (didn't happen, by the way). But even so, I was really satisfied with how the story left off.

But my favorite part of this novel had to be the characters. Again I will say, I fell in 'like' with them all. Sure, there were a few times when I wanted to strangle a particular character (*cough cough* Bianca *cough*), but admittedly not as much as in most books.
The romance... 'like' between Bianca and Wesley is, I think, believable and I really saw the connection.

Predictable, yes. Flaws, yes. But there was just something I really liked about this book that it would be dishonest if I didn't give it all five stars.

 Now for more detail...
Bianca's life seems to be falling apart. Her mother is touring the states and leaving her alone to deal with her father's declining sobriety. Oh, and a few other things, including her obsession over what that butthole Wesley called her before she downed her Cherry Coke on his expensive polo. 

Designated Ugly Fat Friend. 

To escape reality herself, she has sex with Wesley, the man slut of her school; the guy she hates. He's a son of a female-dog and an-illegitimate-son (this is a curse, not an actual description), but he's pretty darn sexy and knows how to kiss (and other stuff...) pretty darn well. Wesley helps her to escape her emotional, inner turmoil and become a physical, sensual being and pretty soon, she's visiting him a few times a week. This doesn't really help her problems though, which she, and her mother, realizes later, but it helped to run away from it all, even for just a few hours. Then comes a problem, it's not just physical anymore.

I loved Bianca and her sharp wit even if she was a bit cynical and bitter for my taste. I enjoyed seeing the world from her perspective and I could relate to her, especially when she gave names to things, like the Skinny Squad for the cheerleaders. She was an enjoyable and funny character and I admired her dedication and loyalty to her friends, even if she went off track with them for awhile.
Wesley was the classical misunderstood bad boy. He was a player and desired the 'company' of girls because of the neglect of his parents and disapproval of his grandmother. At first, he came off as an arrogant 'horn dog poop' but once Bianca spent more time with him, she saw that he was... less arrogant and more genuine than she first thought. I loved how Wesley got her to play pool and video games with him before they did 'The Deed'. Very sneaky.

"I wanted to make sure you were fine...
and that he was okay, too. You didn't,
like, stab the boy, did you? I mean, I
totally disapprove of murdering hotties,
but if you need help burying the body,
you know I'll bring the shovel."

I loved her friends. They had their quirks and flaws, but who doesn't?

"Functionality is overrated."


COMING SOON: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Does anyone know what unbecoming means?
Nevermind! I just googled it. It means unflattering, unseemly.... (for some reason reading the definition reminds me of the 1700s.)
So anyways. After I read the description, I was interested. But then I read the excerpt... which was a mistake cause now I'm dying. Dying to read it. I am a very curious person so reading excerpts are torture to me. The summaries I read are frustratingly vague and all I got from them was that there was a murder and it may be this Mara Dyer's fault. Also, I'm pretty sure there's something supernatural going on.
I love the cover. I'm obsessed with it. It's mysterious and eerie and just makes me even more curious. And then there's this widget which makes the cover wavey and look like it's actually underwater.Oh-Mazing.


by Michelle Hodkin 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
27 September 2011
464 Pages

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

29 May 2011

Lithium in Our Water?

Ok, so I was talking to a friend when he mentioned that the US government purposed a plan or something, I'm not sure what, to add more than average lithium to our drinking water... this is starting to sound like Across the Universe (by Beth Revis. good book, by the way) when they added the horomones or something to the water that got the people all sex crazy and subdued.
Lithium isn't like that drug in the book, as far as I know, but it's a form of treatment for bipolar disease and calms people down. (By the way, I like being energetic and some people should not calm down. They're too calm!) They believe it would decrease the amount of suicide rates but what if this is like a gateway drug for the government? They might get it in their minds to try to control us (I read way too much...) or something along those lines. Like what they did in that book! We never know, do we. This is pushing the ethical line. If it keeps getting pushed little by little, will we notice when it's passed? When will it be too far?
Apparently, the government has spiked our drinking water before. They did it with flouride but the outcome was that dental bills dropped. Flouride is good for teeth.
On the good news front, it was voted down. YAY! But it's still kind of scary that it was proposed at all. Hopefully, it'll never happen. It's fun to read about these things in books and watch it in movies, but it's the complete opposite for it to actually happen, because chances are, I won't be that kick-ass, awesome heroine with that sexy Adonis hero. I'll probably be the brainwashed drone who ends up being slaughtered and having my insides harvested.
Someone in some other post stated that people who do not want to drink this Lithium-enhanced water should buy bottled water, but why would I want to add to the growing crisis of wasted plastic and landfills? Why would I waste my money on $1 per bottle when I have a perfectly functioning water filter machine-thingy in my kitchen (which cost a lot, by the way)? What if I was too poor? If you want lithium-enhanced water, I think it'd be better to just bottle that up and sell it (reusable plastic though). Also, lithium has some side effects and it would really suck if I was one of the unlucky ones to get it. Call me selfish, but I still do not want my drinking water spiked, even if mine is always purified cause you never really know.
For more information, because I don't know much about this, here's a quick link or you can always google it.
I don't want to cause alarm or anything. Just rambling and spreading the knowledge. Before you freak out, you may want to double check all my resources >.< I could be dead wrong for all I know. 


Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1)
by Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill
11 January 2011
416 Pages

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awake on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into a brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship—tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

REVIEW: The Last Little Blue Envelope - Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope (Little Blue Envelope #2)
by Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperTeen
26 April 2011
288 Pages

Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits... and her heart.

This time, there are no instructions.

R E V I E W :
In this sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Ginny's aunt sends her on a crazy road trip back to places she's been before and to places she hasn't, with two new travelers.

We again meet Richard, her uncle, and Keith. Richard is still pretty much the same guy and hasn't changed much but I don't remember Keith being so rude. We also meet Ellie, Keith's girlfriend, and Oliver. Ellie seems like a chipper spirit and overall, a good person. Oliver seems to be decent as well, although he's more like the brooding, mysterious guy. This story doesn't give much depth into anyone but Ginny so I didn't really connect with the others, although I liked Ginny better in this one than the first book. But even so, I really wanted Ginny to be more... warmer to Oliver and to stop obsessing over Keith. He has a girlfriend, a very nice girlfriend. And how can she love him already? She kept saying she did but I never saw it.

It's been a while since I've read 13 Little Blue Envelopes but once I started The Last Little Blue Envelope, the story came back to me. Ginny is still pretty much the same angsty teen we met in the first book, except now she's a bit more confident with herself and not as lost. Unlike in 13 Little Blue Envelopes, this story isn't as fast paced. It's a bit slower with more meaning but it's a light, breezy read.

I love this quote spoken from guess-who:

"People would say that it’s impossible to have a
private pool in the city, unless you were
some kind of mogul and had it on the roof of
your penthouse or something. But it’s not illegal
to have a really clean Dumpster, and if
you want to fill it with water, and if you want
to get in it . . . well, that’s your prerogative.
People always say they can’t do things, that
they’re impossible. They just haven’t been
creative enough. This pool is a triumph of
imagination. That’s how you win at life, Gin.
You have to imagine your way through.
Never say something can’t be done. There’s 
always a solution, even if it’s weird."

That's right! Aunt Peg! Even dead, she's my favorite character. One can learn a lot from her.

COMING SOON: Ashes, Ashes by Joe Treggiari

Huh, has anyone else noticed the rise in dystopian books? I'm not complaining, because I love escaping into these new worlds and following the character's adventures, although, I really hope none of it happens in my lifetime. And there are some things that are becoming old and cliche. Fast. 
Well anyways, Ashes, Ashes is a dystopian tales and it's about a girl, Lucy, and a guy, Aidan, as per usual. From what I read of it (I didn't actually read the book) it sounds interesting. Plus, I love the cover. It looks so cool. The little light in the center could be symbolizing the hope for the characters (I think I'm overanalyzing) and the city is in ruins (which, I think, is self-explanatory). And the guy looks like he's ready to kick some serious... butt. Oh! And Treggiari is giving away a FREE! SIGNED! ANNOTATED (I'm not sure what that means)! NEW! COPY OF THIS BOOK! Only one, I think, sooo enter Jo Treggiari's Ashes, Ashes Contest now!
And I found an audio excerpt. I'm not into audios because... books are for reading... and sometimes the voices tick me off and just ruin the whole experience. 

by Jo Treggiari 
Publisher: Scholastic Press
01 June 2011
352 Pages

A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl's unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares.

Epidemics, floods, droughts--for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she's rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can't continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There's something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

my contest entry: (yes, I seriously wrote that. I wish I could redo it...)


28 May 2011

REVIEW: Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

by Elizabeth Hand
Publisher: PS Publishing
13 May 2010
124 Pages

Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins, best friends, twinned souls, each other's first love. Even within their large, disorderly family—all descendants of a famous actress—their intensity and passion for theater sets them apart. It makes them a little dangerous. When they are cast in their school's production of Twelfth Night, they are forced to face their separate talents and futures, and their future together. This masterful short novel, winner of the World Fantasy Award, is magic on paper.

R E V I E W :  
Illyria takes place in the 1970s Yonkers. It has a fantasy element to it with mentions of Fey and an enchanted, miniature theatre. 

Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins and in love, experiencing the pleasures of the skin. Their close knit family call them the kissing cousins and as the youngest siblings, Madeleine and Rogan suffer from the teasing and sometimes, beatings from the other children. But as the children of twin boys, Madeleine and Rogan are considered practically half-siblings and their behaviour is much disapproved of. 

The family has a legacy of theater but their reactions to it are a mix of disdain and fear so they aren't really exposed to it and any artist talent is not encouraged and seems to die off from disuse. Through the cousins' aunt, Aunt Kate (the black sheep of the family), the two experience the wonders of the theater and fall in love with it to the extent that they decide to audition for the school play.
Near the middle of the book, the differences between the two are more pronounced. Rogan starts to have a life without Madeleine and owns the stage with his voice and performance while Madeleine is one of those forgettable actresses. Even though the two begin to drift apart, the love they had will not be easily forgotten by the two.

Like Madeleine is a forgettable actress, I think this is a forgettable book. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly good either. Reading it was kind of surreal and when I finished reading, I felt like I was waking up from a dream, not necessarily in the good way.

This is a haunting tale and the relationship between the Madeleine and Rogan is the passion of two young teenagers. Elizabeth Hand does a great job describing the surroundings and Madeleine's voice is intense. I feel as though more artistic and open minded thinkers will be more intrigued and understand, and appreciate, this story better.     


REVIEW: Cracked Up to Be - Courtney Summers

by Courtney Summers 
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
23 December 2008
224 Pages

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

R E V I E W :
Cracked Up to Be is about a teenage delinquent and like most teenage delinquents, there is a reason behind Parker's madness. Through little flashbacks, Courtney Summers shows little moments in Parker's past that led to her deliberate fall from grace and finally, the mystery is revealed. But near the beginning, we learn that something horrible happened during a party and she blames herself for it and she uses her self-imposed social isolation as punishment.

I couldn't help but feel sorry for her but I liked her spunk and attitude. She tended to tease and manipulate people with her sharp tongue and wit and was also very blunt and spoke her mind, but not exactly in the good way.

Parker was on a self destructive path and stated that she just wanted to be left alone and forgotten, which was kind of hard considering her caring parents, ex-boyfriend, archrival, and the new guy. Her ex, Chris, wasn't over her, even if she did do some horrible things, so she hoped for the sucess of the relationship between him and her archrival, Becky, and even tried to replace herself as a daughter with a new dog, Bailey.

A new guy Jake comes in the beginning of the story. The first time they meet, she's nasty to him so it's a wonder why he liked her but I guess the heart wants what the heart wants. At first, Parker doesn't really like Jake and tries to get him to leave her alone but eventually, she opens up to him and Chris.

I think Becky, to some degree, really did care about Parker. Sure, she was jealous, but there were some moments where I thought she showed compassion towards Parker. Chris genuinely cared for her too. I think he misinterpreted his friendly/brother love for her as romantic love but eventually, he learns the difference.

Courtney Summers threw at us the story of a grieving, self destructive teenager but unlike most books of those I read, I genuinely liked Parker and understood her way of thinking. She wasn't going for suicidal, although she did have some moments, and just the way Parker's mind worked was intriguing. Her voice fits perfectly with her personality and her thoughts made sense, in a not-quite-twisted sort of way. Even so, I felt that something was missing from this.

27 May 2011

COMING SOON: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

I loved the book The DUFF by Kody Keplinger and when I read the synopsis for Shut Out, I could not wait to get my hands on it! Although I'm never really into the whole love triangle thing (I always feel bad for the one that's left out... unless he's an ass), the female lead, Lissa, seems like such a tough cookie. She takes a stand against her boyfriend instead of bending to his will (I got all this from the summary and excerpt). I always love leads with spunk and independence. I also think I'll enjoy the whole plot of it. Sounds exciting!
It comes out on September 5th 2010. Sign up for YA Highway's (hehe it rhymes!) ARC Giveaway if you want a free copy!
-Oops, I didn't realize the ARC Giveaway is over. My bad.-
OH! YA Highway is having another giveaway for this book and several others on their Two Year Anniversary Giveaway! Good luck!


Shut Out
by Kody Keplinger 
Publisher: Poppy
05 September 2010
288 Pages

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...

REVIEW: The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

by Melina Marchetta 
Publisher: Candlewick
08 March 2011
336 Pages

Melina Marchetta's brilliant, heart-wrenching new novel takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling, much-loved book Saving Francesca - only this time it's five years later and Thomas Mackee is the one who needs saving.

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle's death.

And in a year when everything's broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.

R E V I E W :
I absolutely loved this book. I'm going to start sounding like one of those fan girls in a Justin Beiber concert, but I love love love this book.

Back to the review. Although this book is a follow-up to Saving Francesca, also a really great book, this one can be read alone and still fully understandable and enjoyed. It was nice catching up with most of the characters from Saving Francesca. Francesca had really changed from the gloomy mood and blossomed into someone new. I almost didn't recognize her. I expected her to pine for her boyfriend Will, who's overseas, but she didn't. She was contently living her life with him gone, even if Tom thought otherwise. Very healthy relationship, I think. You could tell she loved Will but not in the obsessed way that's so popular these days. The other characters changed as well but they still had the quirky qualities we fell in love with. They are still the bunch of supporting, caring friends who just want their old Tom back.

In Saving Francesca, I thought Tom was just an introverted kid who was on the path to maturing but in this book, you saw more into him and how he really changed. The death of his uncle sent his already declining home life into turmoil. Tom is struggling through a tough time through this book and he isolated himself from his friends and family. Suddenly, after a head injury, he was pretty much thrust into his past life, living with his, now pregnant, aunt and working in the same bar as Francesca and Justine. He also starts to contact Tara Finke, the girl he can't get out of his head and who he hasn't spoken to since, as Frankie said, a 'one-and-a-half night stand' two years ago. At first, she doesn't reply back because she's still kind of pissed about the whole hump and dump thing he did, but eventually, she starts replying. Then, his life starts getting back on track, but gradually, with bumps along the road.

The whole book switches from Tom to his Aunt Georgie and back, mainly focusing on Tom though. Georgie seems like a tough cookie who's slowly crumbling in the inside, but ready to bounce back. Through Georgie's perspective, some things about the Mackee/Finch family is explained. This family is the stuff of soap operas, and the effect of Joe's death on each family member was explored. Also, another subplot is added but not to the point that it's hard to follow and messy. Sam, the ex, is back in her life.

Personally, I think he took advantage of her when she was emotionally unstable. Sure he helped, but he shouldn't have had sex with her in her unstable state. She described the sex as suddenly waking up with him next to her. Personally, I think someone should introduce Sam to the wonders of a condom because he had gotten another woman pregnant before. Seriously. I also think someone should tell Sam to shut the hell up. It's like he's trying to control Georgie. Both Georgie and Tom describe his presence almost like he's tiptoeing around, hoping Georgie won't notice he's around and kick him out, but sometimes I don't get why they think this. I don't like Sam but I don't hate him. It's like he has two personalities. One moment, I absolutely dislike him and the next, I almost forgive him for his tyranny and not-goodness. But I still don't see why Georgie loved him. I guess the heart wants what the heart wants.

The Piper's Son made me want to cry, I rarely ever cry in books, in some parts and laugh, I love laughing, in others. Marchetta truly captured the raw emotion and made me truly care for these characters. This story was so beautiful and is one of very few books in which I didn't have an overwhelming desire to beat the sense into a character. I know I already said this but I really loved this book. I was so absorbed and it was a great story. I would recommend it to anyone.

Oh, I'd like to quickly mention that I love this cover. The one mostly used in the US is included below but I love the above one more. I feel like it shows how Tom is lost and trying to find his way back.

26 May 2011

My Booky Preferences

Let me introduce myself more through the books I like. I love almost all types of books; adventure, mystery, fantasy, romance (all though 100% romance books make me want to gag sometimes), comedy, and pretty much everything else... except thriller which is another word for horror. I can watch a horror movie but reading about it is so much more freaky. I love to read but I'm still a novice reviewer so bare with me and constructive critisism is very much appreciated.
I mostly read books where there's a female lead but once in a while, I'll read one about a male lead. I enjoy books where the point of view changes. Personally, I'm not really into books where the girl falls 'in love' and can't make her own flippin decisions or think straight. I also hate it when the characters are too perfect. It sickens me. Oh, and what happened to the freaky, twisted, scary vampires and monsters?
My little guilty pleasure is fairy tales, especially original fairy tales being twisted and changed like a modern classic or a changed fairy tale where, let's say, the ugly stepsisters were actually really nice or Prince Charming turns out to be Prince No-Personality. My favorite twisted fairy tale is Ella Enchanted (hated the movie) by Gail Carson Levine. In fact, I love most of Levine's fairy tale books, no matter how childish they are. I don't really believe in the whole happily ever after scheme (I'm pretty cynical) but I still love these types of books.
One thing I can't read about is zombies. They don't scare me, they just really gross me out like when someone pukes. It's disgusting but it's not scary... at least not to me. Oh, and big bugs that do humanlike things. Those disgust me for some reason.
I also need my daily dose of comics to keep me sane.

So... that's it for now.