Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Last Tragedy

Title: The Last Tragedy
Author: Herb Mallette 
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis:   Jake Warbler knew his Aunt Avelia as a warrior of superhuman prowess. Noxie the half-sprite lived in awe of her sorcerous grandfather, Fingold. Now two of the world's greatest adventurers have disappeared, and it falls to their heirs to retrace their steps and understand these dark, mysterious vanishings. The only clues point to history's most famous work of unread literature: the Last Tragedy of Coeldoetta of Jueln. But the Tragedy has eluded all seekers for nearly fifteen hundred years. Can Jake and Noxie succeed where so many others have failed? And can they do so while outpacing a bloody-minded cult that seems to have undone the two most powerful figures in their lives? The Last Tragedy is a sweeping work of adventurous fantasy, set in a world of skyships and floating continents, brimming with magic and full of peril. It pits heroes of wit and skill against villains whose striking depravity will not soon leave the reader's mind.

Why?: It was free on Amazon, so I downloaded the Kindle version. Can't really pass up free books! You can always delete them if they really suck.

Expectations: I have little to no expectations for this book. I assume it's free because it's the author's first book, which means it could go either way.

Judging a book by its cover: From the cover, it appears that a girl with wings (who I assume is Noxie the half-Sprite) and a guy with a musical instrument (who I assume is Jake Warbler) are adventuring. I'm not sure why he has an instrument though... I guess it will be important to the story. Or not, who knows.


The Death Cure

I still have so many blogs to write... I hate when I get ahead in reading and forget to do them.

Title: The Death Cure
Author: James Dashner
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

Why?: I read the first two books in the trilogy, and they were fantastic. Paul bought this one so we could finish up the series. (Except now there's going to be a prequel to The Maze Runner, so we aren't really done yet)

Expectations: I kind of expect a lot out of this book. I expect lingering questions to be answered, and I expect Thomas to have to deal with a lot of issues dealing with his past, present and future.

Judging a book by its cover: From the cover, it looks like it will be snowy outside. Which doesn't really make sense since the world was destroyed by sun flares, but who knows. Also, it seems like huge buildings will be abandoned and left to the forces of nature because people have migrated away or been consumed by the Flare. (Ok, so not all of that came from the cover, but most of it did. With a little background information from the last two books).

Here's to trying to finish all these blogs by 2012! (Although I really doubt that will happen).


Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Prophet of Yonwood

And another!

Title: The Prophet of Yonwood
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Year Published: 2006

Synopsis:   It’s 50 years before the settlement of the city of Ember, and the world is in crisis. War looms on the horizon as 11-year-old Nickie and her aunt travel to the small town of Yonwood, North Carolina. There, one of the town’s respected citizens has had a terrible vision of fire and destruction. Her garbled words are taken as prophetic instruction on how to avoid the coming disaster. If only they can be interpreted correctly. . . . As the people of Yonwood scramble to make sense of the woman’s mysterious utterances, Nickie explores the oddities she finds around town—her great-grandfather’s peculiar journals and papers, a reclusive neighbor who studies the heavens, a strange boy who is fascinated with snakes—all while keeping an eye out for ways to help the world. Is this vision her chance? Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war? In this prequel to the acclaimed The City of Ember and The People of Sparks, Jeanne DuPrau investigates how, in a world that seems out of control, hope and comfort can be found in the strangest of places.

Why?: I read both The City of Ember and The People of Sparks, and figured I should continue the series.  As much as I really don't want to.

Expectations: I really don't expect much from this book. I didn't really enjoy the first two books in the series, and I'm only reading the rest of the series so I can get it over with.

Judging a book by its cover: From the cover, it looks like a missile will probably be dropped somewhere - maybe Yonwood? Also, birds are important.


Ashley's December Pick: Never Let Me Go


Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Year Published: 2005

Synopsis: From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special — and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.

Why?: I've had several people tell me to read this book, so I figure it's about time I got around to it. Plus, from reading about it, some aspects are kind of creepy, for lack of a better word, and that's fitting my theme for the past few months.

Expectations: I expect this to be an excellent book, filled with mystery and tons of questions, some of which may even be left unanswered. I also expect it to be fairly deep - more adult fiction than YA.

Judging a book by its cover: From the cover, I would say that the book is about a girl. Maybe a very reflective girl, who sits alone most of the time just thinking. Or maybe she really likes nature and just likes to be by herself to enjoy it.


Paul's November Book: Crossed

I'm going to try to start catching up, so bear with me. I've started 4 books and finished 2 since I last blogged, so this could take a while.

I think this was supposed to be Paul's November book, so we're going under that assumption. Since he hasn't blogged about anything since The Girl of Fire and Thorns...

Title: Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky— taken by the Society to his certain death—only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander— who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart— change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Why?: Paul and I have both read Matched, the prequel to this book. It just came out recently, so Paul picked it for his November book and I wanted to read it anyway. The first book was good, and hopefully this one continues the story and answers questions left over from Matched.

Expectations: I expect this book to be better than Matched, since Matched was kind of slow and set up most of the information a reader would need to become engrossed in Cassia and Ky's dystopian world. I also expect this to be kind of epic, since they're supposedly running through the wilderness.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover is very reminiscent of Matched, except this one is blue instead of green. From the cover, I would think that it focus on a girl, possibly trapped in some sort of bubble created by her society/family/something like that that she's finally able to break free from.


Friday, December 2, 2011

"Sometimes it's better not to look back."

I am so glad I finally gave in and bought this book.

As always, in case you missed it:

My Pre-Reading

Someone somewhere called this book "Alice in Wonderland meets Harry Potter," and that's actually a pretty accurate I think. Plus a little bit of X-Men.

SPOILERS abound! But I'll try not to give too much away.

This was definitely one of the best books I've read in a while, if not all year. Ransom Riggs did a phenomenal job combining peculiar pictures with a peculiar story without making anything seem too farfetched. I think what made it even better was the inclusion of real events and real places. He takes an old man's stories of monsters and magical places and peculiar children and constantly switches between fantasy and the reality of WWII.

Jacob, as a character, is both simple and extraordinarily complex. As a child, he takes his grandfather's story at face value and although he believes them to be mostly fairy tales, he doesn't take them to be metaphors for his grandfather's wartorn history. As he gets older, he begins to dismiss the stories and believes everything to be simply his grandfather's method of coping with all of the horrors he dealt with as a child.

Then suddenly, Jacob's world in turned upside down when his grandfather is killed. He tries to figure out his grandfather's past, but learns so much more. All of the new children, Miss Peregrine,  and all of the other characters are mysterious and peculiar, and Riggs does an excellent job of creating characters based on real, odd photos.

I am so excited for a sequel and for a possible Tim Burton movie! Definitely a 5/5 on this book! Even if it wasn't entirely original, I still loved it all the way through.


Also, Paul is finally off the first page ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

And now, it's finally time for my November book!

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children , an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar.

They may have been dangerous.

They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason.

And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

This book has been showing up everywhere for the past three months or something. Literally, everywhere. On every Amazon page, every book recommendation, every bookstore... I couldn't get away from it. So I finally gave in and bought it because it sounded like an interesting concept - creepy pictures mixed with a creepy story. I'm also kind of on a role with creepy books (RE: The Dream Catcher trilogy, The Gates...)

Expectations: I except to be very entertained by this book, although I expect it to be very strange at times. The pictures that are shown as previews are very peculiar, and I expect the story to be just as peculiar. I'm super excited for this book!

Judging a book by its cover: The girl on the cover really creeps me out. She's levitating, for Pete's sake. And she looks like an old girl in a little girl's body... but not like those kids that have that disease that I can't think of the name for right now. It's just a creepy picture. And yet it's unforgettable, and definitely makes me think that the book will be unforgettable. And creepy. And fantastic.


"Truly honorable death, the only honorable death, is one that enables life."

I finished reading Paul's October book! 

In case you missed them, here are the previous posts about The Girl of Fire and Thorns:

Ashley's Pre-Reading
Paul's Review
Paul's Pre-Reading

I really enjoyed this book once I got past all of the chaos at the beginning. I thought the beginning was very hectic and that a lot was going on. It seemed to start in medias res, and although I thought it eventually worked itself out, I felt like I couldn't get a grip on what was going on at first. Elisa was getting married but didn't want to be and she's fat and she wants her husband to be ugly but he's not and why are they even getting married so quickly anyway and... yeah. I felt like so many questions were thrown at me before the first chapter even ended.

That's not to say most of the questions went unanswered though! I really liked that Elisa was kept in the dark about the Godstone, and that she didn't really know anything about the prophecy. Because her people were Via Reforma, and took the sacred texts so literally, Elisa had no clue about what bearing the Godstone meant to the past, present, and future. I also liked that she believes herself to be unworthy of being the bearer and turns to food to quell her fears and doubts. Her eating habits are never made to be disgusting or looked down upon (except when the Prince calls her fat), and I feel like Carson is presenting a heroine who many teenage girls can relate to. She's overweight, timid, and nothing special (save for the Godstone in her belly), but she still rises up to the needs of her people and leads them to victory over the animagus and the advancing army.

By the end of the novel, Elisa is a completely different person. At first, she wanted to be loved. Then she was loved and loved in return, lost that love, and then just when she thought she might find love in Alejandro, she loses him too. Although I was NOT amused that Humberto was killed, I think it was a kind of necessary evil to help Elisa to  grow even more. I hate when the love interests are killed off, but that might just be because I'm kind of a sap when it comes to that. I was glad that Cosme and Elisa became friends, and that Elisa kept her promise to give the desert people their own kingdom with Cosme as their queen. 

I really enjoyed the plot, the character development, the descriptions of the people and the setting, and the fake religion that can be taken to be similar to many religions followed today. The "God" figure is not called something that looks like the author did a keyboard smash, and the priests and followers and the idea of one faction creating another denomination of sorts is very reminiscent of Catholicism/Christianity. I thought it was handled very well, and wasn't offensive in any way. 

I can't wait for the sequel to come out! Or sequels, I guess, since it's part of a trilogy. 

Definitely a 4.5/5 for this one! Only because the beginning was so crazy crazy though.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Paul's October Pick: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Why?: Paul saw this at B&N and bought it, so now I get to read it too.

Expectations: Paul really enjoyed this book, so I think I will too. It seems like a pretty epic novel with a not-so-strong heroine who probably steps up into the role of heroine. And faces death often. Since most of the chosen die. I've never read anything by this author, but I hope she writes well.

Judging a book by its cover: I think the gem is very important, and is central to the plot. Also, the girl. Since she probably has the gem.

These are significantly harder to do once I've read the book... I need to stop doing this.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

"It’s a good idea to avoid people who take themselves too seriously."

I finally finished my October pick! A week ago or so, but still. 

The Gates: Prereading

Once I finally got into this book, I really enjoyed it. I felt like the characters were pretty well developed, and I liked how Samuel Johnson was the protagonist of the book. I think it made the book more entertaining to have a child trying to stop the "Great Malevolence" from opening the Gates of Hell and coming to Earth than having an adult do it.

I did think that the novel started out very slowly. The long footnotes, although entertaining, were distracting from the story and every time I saw one that took up half a page, I became discouraged and would put the book down after a couple of minutes. The set up was a little much, and too many people thought Samuel was crazy at first. Although that's probably the most realistic situation, I don't think it needed to be half the book.

I liked Nurd, and I thought his character was well developed. I liked that he didn't want to be an evil demon, and that he and Samuel became friends. I also thought it was a nice bit of revenge for Nurd to stop the Great Malevolence from coming through, and for him to use Samuel's dad's car to do so. 

Honestly though, it took me too long to read this for me to remember much else. I'll give this one a 3/5 for being slow at the beginning, but for improving in the second half. There is a sequel (or two...) but I don't think I'll be reading them any time soon. Sorry, Samuel Johnson.


Monday, November 21, 2011

The People of Sparks....

Are finally off of my reading list. I don't want to review it, because I honestly don't remember most of it. It took me too long to read, and I didn't really enjoy it.

I think the problem was that it was written for an age group way below mine. I found all of the characters really annoying,  and I thought the plot dragged way too much.

I did like that the Emberites were the hidden "treasure", but I thought it was dropped way too easily. It was mentioned, briefly explained, and then it seemed like nobody cared anymore. Screw you, People of Ember, everybody hates you even though you were supposed to be humanity's savior in case we all died!

Overall, I'd rate this a 1.5/5 for someone who typically reads older books.

I am not looking forward to reading The Prophet of Yonwood or The Diamond of Darkhold, but I will. I've already committed too much time to this series to not finish it.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation is usually the correct one"

I finally finished reading The Nine Lives of Chloe King! I meant to blog everytime I finished a book, but that obviously didn't happen. Sorry about that.

In case you missed it: Pre-Reading


First of all, this book pretty much met all of my expectations, and then some. I was prepared to have to deal with some of the stupid paranormal teen romance garbage that a lot of YA books have right now, but I was pleasantly surprised that the romance was not really the main focus of the book. It was a (fairly large) sub-plot, but Chloe didn't focus entirely on choosing between her two boyfriends (Brian and Alyec). I do disagree with her final choice, but to each ther own (I totally would have picked Alyec over Brian). 

The romance between Chloe and Brian seemed a little rushed though. At first, Brian was only supposed to get close enough to Chloe to dispose of her. Then, all of a sudden, he's in love with her? I feel like Chloe and Brian, like most teenagers, just throw the word around without fully understanding what it means. As I read through the books, I felt that Alyec was more mature than either of them and that Chloe could have learned quite a bit from him. Oh, and also, Alyec tried to protect her while Brian was trying to kill her. Most normal people would choose to be with the person who was always trying to save her, not with the guy who suddenly had a change of heart. Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox.

Although the books did cover quite a bit, I felt like they also left much to be discovered still. What happened to Chloe's adopted father? Who was Chloe's birth father? Does Chloe figure out how to be the leader of her Pride? What happens to her remaining six lives? Does she go to college? Although one plot line was resolved, I feel as though Braswell left so many loose ends that it's hard for the reader to really get any closure from the ending. Also, the books contained quite a bit of "fluff" that could have been left out to make the story a little bit shorter... and then she wouldn't have had to write 3 novels to tell one story. Especially since Chloe doesn't realize she's Mai until the end of the first book. Hello, isn't that what the series is supposed to be about? 

Turning Amy and Paul into a couple was also unnecessary, I think. I realize that things like that do happen and I'm pretty sure Braswell wanted to depict a normal teenage experience, but it just added an element to the story that did not need to be there. It just complicates things further and is one more thing that needs to be resolved. That space could have been used to resolve another more pressing issue!

I did think that Chloe's transformation over the course of the three novels was done very well though. She goes from being a self-centered teenager to being the selfless leader of her people. She sacrifices two of her lives to try and bring peace to the Mai and the humans, and eventually succeeds in doing so - at least for the time being. Unlike Sergei, Chloe cares little for power and more for ensuring her people can survive and lead semi-normal lives without having to be afraid of being hunted because of what they are. Although she is a leader by birth, Chloe grows into the role and will eventually be one of the greatest leaders her people have seen (or at least it's implied that she will.)

Over all, I thought the novel was pretty decent. An easy read with an interesting storyline and some well-developed characters. Although it had its flaws, I would probably rate this a 3/5. Pretty average for a YA novel dealing with the supernatural.

I still have yet to finish my October pick, and I haven't even started Paul's yet... Hopefully I get around to those and our November books before November ends...


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

I am very surprised this post is directly after my Pre Reading post. This book is nicely divided into 3 parts, but I did not stop after each to write an entry because I pretty much read more than half the book in two sittings, one on the way to on a field trip and one on the way back.

I am very glad this was not the final cover. The size of Elisa is a big part of the story. The cover with the face in the gem is better because less is revealed.

SPOILERS abound.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was an epic with a protagonist that grows and becomes a more rounded person. Those are my kind of novels. It reminded me of many other epic fiction, from Star Wars to Avatar: The Last Airbender. When I first started reading this novel, I hated all the names. They had unusual spellings and I could not remember who was who or what was what. By the end, the uniqueness of the naming added. It gave the feel of a whole new world.

Going into this novel, I was doubty on how the religious aspect would play out. I enjoyed where it went. The biggest thing that was weird to get to was the use of God and His, Him, etc. Although it is named the same as the Christian God, it is a completely fiction world with completely fiction religions. After finishing this novel, I want to know more about the religion. The origin of her godstone wasn't well explained. Was it present before her naming ceremony? What do the Invierne believe? (I hope I spelled that correctly since I don't have my book here to check).

I loved the way image and body was done. I really enjoy noncaucasian fantasy worlds. I am not certain, but I think all the characters from Elisa's kingdom/nation were dark skinned. They definitely all had black or dark hair. I did not realize dark hair redded in the sun. The Invierne were described as colorful because they had all shades of hair. The animagus were also portrayed well, with their catlike blue eyes and light skin and hair.

The relationships were dealt with perfectly. I also really liked that both of her potential love interests died. All the characters had enough depth for what they were needed for. I want to know more about the past bearers. I really liked the way their destinies may still be fulfilled long after their deaths. The past bearers reminded me of the past avatars in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

I want MORE! There have been many books recently that once I have finished I discover a sequel is in the works and I deem it unnecessary. In this case, I want a sequel now!

I will give this a 4.5/5. It was excellent on so many levels. I am looking forward to the sequel.

I guess I will now wait for Ashley to finish her October pick and continue to read A Clash of Kings, which will take me until the end of the year probably unless I suddenly get a lot of free time.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paul's October Pick: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. Elisa is the chosen one. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn't die young. Most of the chosen do.

Why?: This was another random find in store. I should stop buying books spontaneously like this though. This book was almost half the price I paid on Amazon. I need to remember to check Amazon! So, I don't know much about this book. I hadn't heard any hype before discovering it in the store. I have since watched the author's video on Amazon and I am still intrigued. I enjoy YA royalty novels. 

Expectations: Religion has been mentioned in the descriptions of this novel and I am hoping it isn't something too preachy. I am interested how the main character is chosen as the chosen one. I am expecting character growth by the end, but this is, like all current novels, the first in a trilogy. I hope enough is brought to conclusion. 

Judging a book by its cover: I like the font of the title. I also like how there is a face within the gem. The colors and bushes/leaves around the cover make me think some of the novel will take place in some enchantedlike forest, but other covers look more like a dessert



I finally got around to finishing this novel. It wasn't very long, but Fall Break got in my way.

Ashley's Pre Reading
Ashley's Review
My Pre Reading

Of course, Ashley has read this whole series so I must refrain from reading her other posts. I felt that this novel was just the beginning of a longer, larger story. I haven't read the rest of the series, but maybe it would have benefited to be one 500 page book rather than three 200 page books. There are so many questions I want answered. How was the dead blind lady in a dream helping after she died? I want to know more about her. The Captain even mentioned her by name. 

I did enjoy the style of McMann's writing. She dealt with Janie being pulled into dreams well. Some of the story seemed pushed, but overall it had a nice flow. Like Ashley said, the relationship wasn't forced. The two of them went through some rough times until Janie learned the truth. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series, but I have no idea when I will do that. Possibly some day I have a few hours of free time. I should probably blog about my October pick so I don't fall too far behind. Thankfully I am posting this and Ashley won't be kicking blue off the homepage.

I would give this novel a 3/5


Monday, October 10, 2011

October Pick: The Gates

And now, time for my October pick!

Title: The Gates
Author: John Connolly
Year Published: 2009

Synopsis: A strange novel for strange young people. Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Boswell are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween. Which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Avenue. The Abernathys don't mean any harm by their flirtation with Satanism. But it just happens to coincide with a malfunction in the Large Hadron Collider that creates a gap in the universe. A gap in which there is a pair of enormous gates. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out ...Can Samuel persuade anyone to take this seriously? Can he harness the power of science to save the world as we know it?

Why?: I was walking through Barnes & Noble looking for a book to read, and I came across this one. It sounded interesting, and it is also focused around Halloween. Since it's October, I think a Halloween book is very fitting!

Expectations: I expect this book to be very... strange. I don't think anything will make much sense (the Large Hadron Collider is a part of it, after all). I do expect to be very entertained though, as I think Connolly will incorporate random things into a humorous story that actually makes sense. I've never actually read anything by Connolly though, so I could be sadly mistaken.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover has two gates that kind of look like the devil, as well as a boy and his dog. I assume the boy is Samuel Johnson, and I think that he will find the gates of Hell. Also, since the gates are surrounded by a town, I assume the gates of Hell open up in the middle of Samuel's neighborhood.


The Nine Lives of Chloe King

I was going to make this book my October Pick, but decided that I wouldn't pick an entire trilogy as my pick. So until my October book comes in on Wednesday, I'll be reading this book and trying to get through some more of Wizard's First Rule. 

Also, this is all three books... so the all of the information  for the entire thing and the individual books is included below. I apologize for the long post.

Title: The Nine Lives of Chloe King
(Includes: The Fallen, The Stolen, The Chosen)
Author: Liz Braswell (writing as Celia Thomson)
Year Published: 2004, 2004, & 2005 respectively. The collection I have was published in 2011 though.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: Chloe King is a normal girl. She goes to class (most of the time), fights with her mom, and crushes on a boy…or two. But around her sixteenth birthday, Chloe finds that perhaps she isn’t so normal after all. There’s the heightened night vision, the super fast reflexes – oh, and the claws. As she discovers who she is – and where she comes from – it is clear she is not alone. And someone is trying to get her. Chloe has nine lives. But will nine be enough? Even curiosity can't kill her.

The Fallen: Chloe King was a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She did her homework and got good grades, but she wasn't afraid to ditch class sometimes to hang out with her best friends. She slept at home, but otherwise avoided all human contact with her mom. The usual stuff. Then she fell from San Francisco's highest tower, and her life changed. For starters, she died. And then, she woke up. Now Chloe's life is anything but normal: Suddenly guys are prowling around her, she's growing claws, and someone's trying to kill her. Luckily for Chloe, she still has eight lives to go.

The Stolen: She argues with her mother. She occasionally skips class. And she alternately crushes on two totally different boys. But Chloe King is by no means your typical teenager. The girl can scale buildings and see in the dark. Sometimes, at night, she even likes to leap from rooftop to rooftop. Yes, Chloe has the instincts and ability of a cat. And that makes her unique indeed. It also makes her a wanted woman. Because the Order of the Tenth Blade does not deal kindly with people like Chloe. It stalks them. Preys upon them. And wants many of them -- like Chloe, for instance -- dead.

The Chosen: CHLOE KING MAY BE THE ONE. Despite a rocky few weeks, Chloe King is starting to get it. She's figured out who she is (a girl with catlike superpowers), where she belongs (at home with Mom), and what she wants to do (chill with her friends). Yes, she's got funky superpowers, and yes, two rival groups think she's some "chosen" leader. But no, she's not buying all that ancient-warrior crap. And she's definitely not developing a superhero alter ego like in those old comic books. For Chloe, being the One means she can have whatever she wants -- i.e., more goof-off time and fewer "cat people" conventions. Then she finds her friend bleeding in an alley. All at once Chloe realizes that the years of bloodshed are not over. In fact, they never will be. The Mai and the Tenth Blade are going to persist in their dangerous rivalry. Unless Chloe accepts her destiny -- and takes control.
Why?: ABC Family picked up the novel to be a new TV series, and it looked intriguing, to say the least. I figured the books would be better than the show (since that was definitely the case with Pretty Little Liars, although the show is good if you haven't read the books). I looked up the books on Amazon, and found this collection for like $8 and couldn't really pass it up. I've had it for a couple of months and haven't gotten around to reading it yet, so I figure now is as good a time as any.

Expectations: I expect this to be a supernatural teen romance novel, dealing with the normal problems of a 16 year old girl... as well as the not-so-normal problems of a 16 year old girl who is also the chosen leader of the Mai. Cat-like powers are always cool though, so I expect to be entertained most of the time and annoyed with stupid teenage problems for only a small amount of the time. I don't expect it to be a difficult read since ABC Family picked it up.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover of the book I have is mostly white and has a girl's eyes that are very cat-like. The cover makes me think that the book is about a girl who has cat-like powers and eventually starts to look like a cat.


Art has a saving magic of its own.

 I enjoy when Paul doesn't post often, because then I can try and kick his posts off of the front page. Except this is the last post I need to catch up on, so that probably won't happen anytime soon.

Here are the links for the other posts about this book, in case you missed them:
Ashley's Pre-Reading

First of all, this book was definitely NOT "Hunger Games meets Harry Potter" as the cover suggests. I think that kind of quote on the front puts very high expectations on a book, and this one does not live up to that. Maybe "The children's version of Hunger Games meets Harry Potter." The only similarity to the Hunger Games is that the world is a dystopian society, and children "die." Except they actually do die in the Hunger Games and here, a Dumbledore-like character saves them and puts them in a magical world.

Secondly, although I went into this book with low expectations since it's a middle-grade novel, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the style of writing. Although it was very different from the other McMann novels that I read in September, I thought that this book flowed nicely and didn't have too many sections that dragged. If I had a 7 or 8 year old child, I think s/he would be able to read this book and not have too many problems with the sentence structure or the vocabulary. Although the novel did switch between Alex and Aaron a few times, I liked that most of the novel was from Alex's viewpoint. His world was, after all, more interesting than Aaron's.

The parallelism between Alex & Aaron and Justine & Marcus was a nice twist on an otherwise straightforward plot. Although I could definitely see that coming way before it was officially announced, I'm not sure that a young reader would have been able to figure it out. I think that it was hidden well enough for the intended audience to be pleasantly surprised, but not too hidden so that it's impossible to figure out on your own. 

I do have to agree with Paul that the characters were underdeveloped. Although this was a middle-grade book, that doesn't mean the characters don't have to have depth. It's not a "My First Reader" book. The romance between Lani and Alex is only briefly mentioned, and I think that it could have been expanded on a little bit. Also, the relationships between both sets of twins, as well as Alex's relationships with his friends, were very shallow. Aaron is only portrayed as the "bad" twin, and although he has a minimal amount of creativity, he refuses to use it or admit it. He, and Justine for that matter, apparently have no good qualities. Although there are people like that in movies and novels, I feel like McMann could have developed them a little bit more and had them show at least a little more weakness. 

Also, the cover artist needs to learn what a cheetah is. That thing looks like a panther/lioness with wings. 

Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend this book to someone who likes YA novels. Instead, I'd give it to a 6-10 year old to read. If I had to rate it out of 5 though, I would probably give it about a 2.5/5. I thought that it was fairly well written for being a middle-grade book, but that it could definitely have used some improvement. 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

"I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another."

Since it's October, I suppose I should get around to writing reviews of the books I've already read so that I can start my October pick.

I really enjoyed Divergent. Although the whole "let's all write trilogies about dystopian futures!" thing is kind of getting old, I like the way Roth tackled the subject. It actually reminded me a little bit of Delirium. Roth chose to have it set in a futuristic, dystopian Chicago, and I think that helps readers (especially US readers) feel more connected to the novel. It's not like a totally different world in a parallel universe where this could never happen. Although it's completely unlikely, this could still possibly happen at some point in the very distant future.


Roth's characters are very relateable, I thought. Beatrice/Tris struggles with being Divergent and still trying to fit in within her new faction. She also struggles with relationships with peers, leaders, and her family. None of her new friends were from Abnegation and so have had different values instilled in them throughout their upbringing. Which I actually think was a pretty cool thing for Roth to do. This way, Tris can see things from different viewpoints, and I think it helps her to be around others who have given up their families and everything they've ever known to try and become members of the Dauntless faction. 

The differences between Eric and Four/Tobias and Tris' relationships with them were also presented very well, I thought. Eric is constructed as the ruthless leader, who cares only about obtaining as much power as he possibly can. He uses brute strength and fear to get his way,  and doesn't care who he hurts in the process. Tobias, on the other hand, has a completely different idea of bravery. As a previous member of Abnegation himself, Tobias believes that bravery requires more than just overcoming your fears. For him, selflessness is a form of bravery, and he helps Tris by helping her come to this realization himself. Though he appears to taunt her, he's actually trying to help her continue to stand up for herself and for her friends. Of all the characters that Tris interacts with, I feel that Tobias should receive most of the credit for Tris' growth over the course of the novel. I also like that the romantic relationship between Tris and Tobias wasn't the main focus of the novel, and that it kind of just happened as a result of everything else. Also, that one of Tris' fears was their relationship. I think that humanizes her, and might even help readers struggling with similar fears to realize that it's ok to be afraid. I did feel though that Four being Tobias was pretty obvious fairly early on, and that if Tris hadn't been so self-absorbed she would have also caught on.

Tris' family is another mess that I think Roth handles well.  Although Tris' mother appears to have been born and raised in Abnegation, she was actually born and raised Dauntless. Like Tris though, she is actually Divergent. Although I think it was a little too obvious that this was the case, I kind of liked that it took Tris a while to figure her mother out. I also felt like Roth constructed a mother as a mother should be - supportive and understanding of her children regardless of their choice to leave their family & friends for another faction. Tris' father, on the other hand, is kind of a jerk. I felt like he didn't really embody what it meant to belong to Abnegation, but that he was slowly getting there before he died. The fact that both of Tris' parents sacrificed themselves so that she could live and save everyone shows that they were in fact at least mostly selfless. I also liked the way that Roth created Tris' brother. Outwardly, he was selfless and seemed to belong to Abnegation. Inwardly, however, he had a thirst for knowledge that belonged to the Erudite. Although it's not explicitly mentioned, I think that Caleb might also be a little Divergent. 

The bad part about not writing these reviews as soon as I finish the book is that I can't remember what I thought about the book as I was reading it. It makes it kind of difficult to review.

I felt that the plot moved very quickly, and that there weren't any parts that were excessively slow or boring. I like Roth's writing style as well, and I think it fit very well with this novel. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy, although I feel that this could have been a standalone novel had the ending been just a little bit more conclusive. Although it could have been a standalone novel as is as well.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the dystopian YA genre. It's not quite as good as The Hunger Games trilogy, but I'm not sure that much can be compared to that. I would definitely rank this up there with Delirium. Also, since Paul feels the need to implement a rating system, I'll use one too. I would rate this book a 4/5 overall. It has some flaws, but for the most part it was a very good read. 


Friday, September 30, 2011

Paul's September Pick: The Unwanteds

Like I said, two quick posts! I still need to review Divergent, but after I do that I'll finally be all caught up. I haven't even read this book yet!

Paul's Pre-Reading
Paul's Review

Title: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths
Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret--behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.

In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.

But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.

Why?: Paul picked it for September, so now I have to read it too.

Expectations: I expect this to be a nice, easy read. From what Paul and other websites have said, this is a middle-grade book. I don't expect it to be as good as the Dream Catcher trilogy just by virtue of it being middle-grade, but I do expect to be entertained. I'm not expecting Harry Potter or The Hunger Games only because I know that if I do I'll be sorely disappointed.

Judging a book by its cover: There's a big flying kitty on the front! I like kitties :). I expect magic to be important, and probably the flying lion to be important as well. 

I will not have this book finished by the end of September... At least it gives me a little more time to pick a book for October though.



I am determined to finish my blogs by the end of September. I know this won't happen since I'm going to a Halo party shortly, but I can at least do two quick ones before then. So, first up: 

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris, and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen.

But Tris also has a secret: one she’s kept hidden from everyone, because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her.

Why?: Paul bought this book over the summer and really enjoyed it, and he told me to read it.

Expectations: I expect this book to be a little like the Hunger Games trilogy. And also kind of like the Uglies series. One girl is different and tries to save her dystopian world.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover is very simple, and has the skyline of what I assume is Chicago and a fire eye thing. I think fire will be important, as will the city.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Month of McMann: WAKE

Lisa McMann is apparently the author of the month here at The AP Book Club.

Ashley's Pre Reading

Title: Wake
Author: Lisa McMann
Year Published: 2008

Synopsis: Not all dreams are sweet. For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime. She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control. Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....

Why?: Ashley chose this trilogy at random and she seems to have liked it from what I've heard.

Expectations: I enjoyed Lisa McMann's The Unwanted so I think this will be a good concept. I hope it plays out well. Ashley has warned me about an unusual writing style to deal with the dreams. I am intrigued and anxious to start reading, especially since September ends at midnight Friday night.

Judging a book by its cover: I like the cover. The title really pops as does the pillow.