Sunday, August 31, 2008

Three (VERY FREAKING EXCITING) Things

#1: YA Weekly is no more. Instead, I'm teaming up with Kristi (the Story Siren) who also does these weekly roundup thingies under the name Weekly Odyssey, and together we'll bring you a new feature in tandem, tentatively titled YA Weekly Odyssey (see what we did there?). This week, it was posted on her blog; next week on mine; and so on, so forth, alternately. Go check it OUT!

#2: Cleolinda has posted the second part of her Midnight Sun commentary, this one for chapters 7 through 12. Click here to see it.

#3: I HAVE OVER 7500 VIEWS FOR THIS MONTH. THIS IS A FIRST. Thank you to everyone who's come by - you could NOT BE MORE AWESOME. <3

Steph

$10 Giftcard To Any Online Retailer

Yup, that kind of contest again! It remains as my most popular to date, so why not do an encore? Now, because I'm broke until I get my tutoring paychecks (god knows when that will happen, as I've been skiving sessions (with a forewarning, of course) to study for my (profane adjective) midterms :@), the prize is $10 this time, not $15. But still - any online retailer of your choice! :)

You know the drill:

Leave a comment to enter the random drawing.

Blog about it / post it on your contest sidebar and win two extra entries.

If you don't have a regular blog, you're more than welcome to post on your MySpace blog or post a MySpace bulletin for one extra entry.

And... the "who referred me here" honor system hasn't been working too well, so I've come up with a new way to award points for those, which I will not be disclosing. Let's just say, the more truthful you are, the better for you ;) And people who do post this on their blog, don't be discouraged - you too shall be redeemed. (Details later.)

So, have fun, kids! You've got until Saturday, Sept 6th. Get winning.

Contest Winner

The winner of last week's Brother Torres contest is Vanessa from What Vanessa Reads, who entered via email. Vanessa, just emailed you for your address - get that back to me ASAP! :)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

HAHA, A Midnight Sun Commentary

Cleolinda has done it again. If you're not familiar with her Twilight series commentaries, here's orientation: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn.

Anyhow, check out this awesome commentary of the first six chapters of Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer.

Highlights (the italics are for direct manuscript quotes):

SECRETS HE MUST PENETRATE, LET HIM DO SO THROUGH AWKWARD CONVERSATION! She is shy! Intelligent! Selfless! Perceptive! FRAGRANT! His mask of normalcy has already slipped twice--no, three times in her presence! HER "OUTRAGEOUS FLAVOR" IS MAKING HIM LOSE CONTROL!

So then in Edward's next class, Emmett reminisces about the time he totally ate some righteously delicious lady he randomly found hanging up laundry. Thanks, Emmett. So Edward flees class to sit in his car and listen to "violent music." Rule of thumb in the Twilightverse: when in doubt, they're listening to Muse. Whoever it is, Outrageous Flavor is totally opening their next concert.
--

The sound of my name on her lips did strange things to my body.

Again: two medical degrees, right? You do know what's happening here... right? It's okay, man, you're (eternally) seventeen. These things happen, you know? Just... try to stay seated until it passes.

--

...and there are so many others but I couldn't possibly quote them in their entirety without ruining the reading-the-full-post experience. To read the rest, click here.

Oh and as Cleolinda said:

I... I'm gonna have to detox a little while from that level of condescension before I can deal with the second half of the manuscript. Give me until sometime tomorrow, guys.

Hehe, I can't wait to read the second half.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Book Blogger Event of the Year (!!!)

So, the very classy Amy of My Friend Amy is holding the coolest event in the history of the universe, the Book Blogger Appreciation Week. More info on that here, including what it is and how you can register. You can also start voting by clicking here.

Personally, I find this is an off-the-walls, made of awesome idea because, well, Amy said it best:

"You work hard. You read books, you write reviews, you maintain relationships with your readers, publicists, and authors. You are constantly running to the post office to mail your giveaways and participating in carnivals to help boost traffic. You sometimes want to faint when you see the size of your TBR pile, but faithfully you read. And you do it because you love it. Book blogging is for most a hobby. But it's a hobby that takes a lot of work and time. It's a labor of love."

Word.

So I think it's fabulous and that everyone who hears about it should participate cos God knows we'd, as a community, love it if you do. :)

12 Chapters of Midnight Sun Available on Stephenie Meyer's Website

So, a few days ago, the first twelve chapters of a draft of Midnight Sun were leaked on the internet. Stephenie Meyer posted a response on her site and made the first twelve chapters of the manuscript (still in its unedited, unpolished form) available. Click here to see it, and I suggest you read her message before scrambling for the twelve chapters. (And no, the meadow is not in any one of them.)

She seems quite distressed about it, and rightfully so -- I knew about this leaked manuscript and I know many other fans did, too. It's pure temptation when you find out you can get an early peek at a book you're anticipating so much, and I think most people would, facing the choices of "remaining loyal to the author" and downloading the illegal version anyway, go ahead and pick the latter.

Even though I was quite disappointed in Breaking Dawn and couldn't see myself buying Midnight Sun unless it received glowing reviews and even then, only paperback format, I'm really sorry for the scrutiny she's going through. This chain of events may have fed the fans' hunger temporarily, but it only added insult to injury after the response to Breaking Dawn. Now that she's placed Midnight Sun on hold indefinitely, the fans' anticipation will only grow in the long run.

While I do think that this was an unintentional hell of a marketing technique (this may cause people who hated Breaking Dawn to see Stephenie in a positive light again, and perhaps get over the animosity*), it makes me sad to see Stephenie's discouragement like so.

Ah, such is life. >.< * I have yet to read it and find out if it compensates because, as most of you know, I loathed Breaking Dawn. I'll probably post something about it ;)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh, God, I Think I Just Squealed!

You cannot imagine how happy it makes you when, after three hours of midterms and seven hours straight of group studying at your school for tomorrow's midterms, you come home and have to tutor this ten-year-old girl for the first time (English tutor, chyeah) and you're so exhausted and you try to do the best you can with her and then when her mom comes to pick her up and you close the door goodbye, she squeals in that tiny-tiny voice of hers that "she loved it!"

Which means that you did a good enough job that she wants to come back. And you can't wait 'til next week because by then, you'll be back to your regular self and hopefully more fun.

And then you go to your room and you see the Book Divas package containing The Book Thief in all its hefty glory just waiting 'til you finish midterms (9 more to go!) for you to devour.

Even though you spent double the time in school today than you slept, and you still have ten more chapters to review for tomorrow's three midterms, you can't help but think it's been a wonderful day.

The night's still young, but dude, you are SMILING THE 8347893 WATT BRIGHT SMILE. It has occurred to you that you are sleep deprived. BUT NO MATTER.

Life rocks sometimes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's Too Risqué For YA?

You know how I said I'd have a review for an oo-lala book yesterday? Yeah, that didn't happen.

It's not happening today either. Didn't have time to write it yesterday, and will only have time to write it later tonight.

Blame Physics. I stayed for five hours after school, cramming for it. Tomorrow, same, but also with History and Art History. And then I tutor for two hours straight (hey, how else would I earn money with which to buy books?).

Sooooooooo.... For those interested (I don't suspect it's that many of you :P), that review comes tomorrow as a scheduled post. Or not, because I may not finish it.

For today, since I have a compulsion with posting every day, I'm going to ask:

What is considered too much for YA? I hear several people complaining about the mention of drugs, sex scenes, profanity, etc, and I always wondered, well, isn't that how we teens are?

So, what's your take? Feel free to exemplify by giving titles to books you felt went too far/were pitch perfect.


Happy Tuesday, everybody!

Steph

Monday, August 25, 2008

Well, If It Isn't Miss Alaska Young

Ah, you know what I'm reading right now? Actually, the appropriate term is rereading. Looking for Alaska by John Green.

Note that I do not reread books in their entirety. I mean, yeah, I'll reread portions I liked before (usually the oo-lala scenes*, hehe), but getting me to read an entire book over again? A very hard feat, it is.

1) I am very easily bored, and

2) My memory serves no nobler purpose than that of remembering every last miniscule detail of every single book I read.

Which goes hand in hand, if you think about it, because knowing what will happen bores me.

So anyway, I'm rereading every word of Alaska and... Wow. I'm rediscovering it all over again, an experience that can appropriately and adequately likened to falling in love.

It is indeed a wonderful life.

* In other news, speaking of oo-lala books, I have a review of one coming up today, for the kinky inclined of you.

The Brothers Torres Contest

Hello, people! This was posted at the end of YA Weekly on Saturday, but apparently not a lot of people got the memo so reposting it!

Comment here or email yaweekly@reviewerx.com to win a copy of The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees. Extra entries go out to those who either blog about it or post a link on a contest sidebar. Deadline is Saturday the 30th!

--

Frankie Towers has always looked up to his older brother, Steve, and with good reason. Steve is a popular senior who always gets what he wants: girls, a soccer scholarship, and--lately--street cred. Frankie, on the other hand, spends his time shooting off fireworks with his best friend Zach, working at his parents' restaurant, and obsessing about his longtime crush, Rebecca Sanchez.

Frankie has reservations about Steve's crusade to win the respect of the local cholos. He doesn't think about them, though, until he gets into a fist fight John Dalton - the richest, preppiest kid in his New Mexican high school, and longtime nemesis of Steve. After the fight, Steve takes Frankie under his wing - and Frankie's social currency begins to rise. The cholos who used to ignore him start to recognize him; he even lands a date to Homecoming with Rebecca.

The situation with Dalton continues to simmer, and after another incident Steve is bent on retaliating. Frankie starts to think that his brother is taking this respect thing too far. He may have to choose between respecting his brother and respecting himself.

In an honest and humorous debut novel, Coert Voorhees uses a coming of age story to look at where loyalty ends and the self begins.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Night Confessionals

Q: What completely ruins the satisfaction of having read five books from my blog TBR pile this past week?

A: The knowledge I haven't written reviews for any of those five books. So really, only 25% of the work is done.

Oh, joy.

Sunday nights suck. Monday is making a shadow of its imminent presence. The thought of another week starting just to be over in, like, three seconds makes me feel ancient. >.<

Have a miserable end-of-the-weekend, everyone.

Hope your week was more productive than mine, and hope this week proves to be fruitful! It better be, as I have midterms and other unpleasant unmenitionables.

Steph

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Young Adult Weekly (Week of August 17th-23rd)

Young Adult Weekly is a compilation of links from around the YA blogosphere. This includes reviewers, authors, and some agents, editors, and even articles in an array of publications that have to do with YA.

Each week, there's also a contest accompanying the Young Adult Weekly post. You may find details about that at the very end of this post. Last week's winner was Meredith. Email me, please!

If you'd like to contact me about adding links to future editions or have a book that can be used for a giveaway, feel free to email me at reviewerx (at) gmail.com. For continuous YA news, you may want to try YA Fabulous!, which has a great selection of the such.

Young Adult Weekly
Week of August 17th-23rd

From the authors...

A.S. King (The Dust of 100 Dogs) is busybusybusy, but she's still fabulous.

Alexa Young (Frenemies) has fallen off the face of the earth. Alexa? Alexa? Alexa?!

C.K. Kelly Martin (I Know It's Over) is a new voice in the YA genre, but she's proven to be exceptionally nice! Also, she's earned some starred reviews for her forthcoming September debut, I Know It's Over, including one this week from Publishers Weekly!

E. Lockhart (The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks [review forthcoming]) received a New York Times book review for Disreputable, written by another YA novelist, Donna Freitas!

Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) is in the middle of writing Book 2, opening the marketing and publicity floodgates, and witnessing random catfights.

Debbie Reed Fischer (Braless in Wonderland) answers one of my burning questions -- there is currently no sequel to Braless in the works, which is such a damn shame. >.< Melissa Walker (Violet in Private [review forthcoming]) is offering up free bookmarks of ViP! Go claim some! I would but, y'know, teen books--not to mention teen books written in English--are not in vogue here in Unidentified Reviewer X country. So I wouldn't be able to pass them around. *sigh*

Aprilynne Pike (Wings) lost her wallet, sent her daughter off to 1st grade, andandand is on vacation in Hawaii! Jealous, as I should be. Oh, and Aprilynne also has a MySpace account, something I did not know. Go add her!

Elizabeth Scott (Living Dead Girl [review forthcoming]) returned from her trip! Read about it here.

Stephanie Kuehnert (I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone) just had her last day at her job! And how did she spend that last week? Having fantasies about a home scrub down. Hey, to each their own. :)

Justine Larbalestier (How To Ditch Your Fairy [review forthcoming]) has a blog filled with interesting topics, so if you're one who likes to discuss various aspects of the business down to the core, go over there. Or subscribe. One that caught my eye this week was about people who only read books by women writers and people who only read books by male writers.

Jenny Davidson (The Explosionist) seems to be in the middle of a lot of stuff, so I'm not technically sure of this, but my powers of deduction point toward a possible January release of her second book, the sequel to Explosionist.

Megan McCafferty (Fourth Comings) posted a partial list of frequently played songs on iTunes. She also mentioned she was revising Perfect Fifths, which yes is pretty obvious since it's still months before its release, but just the mention of it made me smile.

From the reviewers...

First thing: I just found out of a great book blog called Bookish Ruth! Check it out!

Reviewer X reviewed the much-disappointing Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle and the way-better Death by Latte by Linda Gerber. She also had some discussion posts: Reviewer = Writer? (and the followup, ...But Isn't It Prejudicial?), and So, Paper or E?

The Ravenous Reader reviewed Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (and, ick, liked it :P) and How To Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier.

The Page Flipper reviewed Serafina67 by Susie Day and Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vande Velde.

Presenting Lenore reviewed The Smart One by Ellen Meister, The Big Splash by Jack Ferraiolo and Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi.


Teen Book Review reviewed North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley and The Spellman Files & Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz.

Frenetic Reader reviewed Inexcusable by Chris Lynch and A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone.

Booked Books reviewed Freezing Point by Karen Dionne, The Hunt for the Seventh by Christine Morton-Shaw, and The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum.

All Five Stars reviewed Ambition (a Private novel) by Kate Brian.

From The Corner of Megan's Mind reviewed Rumors by Anna Godberson.

The Book Muncher reviewed Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt, How to Hook a Hottie by Tina Ferraro, Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, and Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël.

YA Book Realm reviewed The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a book I really, really want!

Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf reviewed The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong and Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford.

TL Book Nook reviewed The Angel Experiment by James Patterson.

Book Chic reviewed Identical by Ellen Hopkins.



Contest inventory...

C.K. Kelly Martin is having an I Know It's Over contest. This one ends on September 23rd.

Elizabeth Scott is holding a Picture This! contest. It ends on August 29th.

Melissa Walker has a Violet in Private contest going on. Deadline: September 1st.

Presenting Lenore is giving away three signed copies of The Big Splash by Jack Ferraiolo. It ends on September 3rd.

The Page Flipper's weekly contest is for Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach!

Released this week...

[this is a discontinued section -- takes up too much time >.<


Next week on Reviewer X...

The usual =)

And now I leave you with...

Win a copy of Coert Voorhes The Brothers Torres. To enter, please email yaweekly@reviewerx.com. :) Extra entries may be earned by blogging about this or posting a link to your Contests sidebar item and telling me in the email.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 22, 2008

So, Paper or E?

*giggles at title*

Recently, I read my first ever e-book. It was titled Breaking Dawn. It was disappointing, both the book and the reading format. And the thing is, I'm sure that even if the book were semi-enjoyable, the e-book thing would've still bothered me. I'm a sentimental reader - I must have a book in my hands at all times, be able to feel it, make marks on it (if it's an ARC), and occasionally hug it. E-book reading is so impersonal to me.

And yet I do see its advantages. The storage aspect is awesome - my bookshelves are overflowing and with no used books bookstore/libraries around here I can do away with books I didn't particularly enjoy. Let's not even talk about ARCs - what the hell am I supposed to do with those? (And if anyone's got any tips, I'm all ears.)

But still. I can't ever see me being an e-book reader. In fact, I think I even have an e-book I received in my first few weeks in the blogosphore that will only get a review when my paper books - which I'm in no shortage of, and which also take precedence - run out. It's a tricky world.

So anyhow - paper books or e-books?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

...But Isn't It Prejudicial?

On yesterday's post about the accuracy behind the stereotype that reviewers = aspiring writers, we got a crap ton of different responses: Lots said they were indeed Aspiring, others said they were Writers Sans Aspirations, others proclaimed they'd like to work in the publishing biz, and others still said they do this for fun and don't have any plans for working in the Biz.

So. Cool. Range. Woot.

Now my question is, as I've seen this being raised elsewhere: Say you give a popular book (or any book really) a particularly negative review. The author is a big name. When your time comes, you'll be targeting a lot of authors for blurbs. So...criticizing stuff now kind of burns bridges, yes? I mean, if they find out...

On one hand, it's great for building connections. We're RIGHT THERE face to face with loads of publicity and author folks. On the other, isn't it prejudicial?

Death By Latte by Linda Gerber

Summary


It was only a few weeks ago that Aphra Connolly’s life changed completely. She had been living a quiet existence on her father’s secluded island resort, until Seth Mulo turned up and stole her heart . . . and provided information that led her to find her mom in Seattle. But the reunion isn’t quite what she expected. Aphra’s mom, Natalie, doesn’t seem happy to see Aphra, and Natalie’s boyfriend, Joe, insists that Aphra go home. Even worse, Seth shows up, only to ask her to return the ring he gave her the previous summer. At least Natalie’s hunky neighbor is sympathetic. But when Joe is found dead at a nearby coffee shop, Aphra discovers her whole trip to Seattle has been based on a lie. And now someone just might be trying to kill her. . . .

Grade: B-

Thank you to JL for this book!
In stores September 18th, 2008.


Memorable ARC Tidbits:
You know how some books have those Also Check Out pages for other books by the same publisher? Well, this one had one. And they had When It Happens by Susane Colasanti on there, except they spelt it Susanne Colasanti. Nominal typo!

Oh and I personally like this ARC better than the one of Death by Bikini. It's smaller, glossier, and cuter. Hehe.

Review!
(Please note that I'm not particularly proud of this review - I rewrote it a ton of times and it still sounds off to me. So yeah, I acknowledge its suckitude. Click here to read Presenting Lenore's review, which is infinitely more coherent.)

Ah, zeroing in once again on the Death By series. The first installment, Death By Bikini [review], didn’t impress me in any way, be it positive or negative. My mixed feelings were because, while the story was cute and competently written, the events were all crammed together making the pace in which I moved through the story feel fit for a race designed to render me breathless—and not in a good way. I mean, there’s tight writing and then there’s size-2-spandex-to-your-size-6-body writing.

Anyway, what can be deduced from that paragraph is that Death By Bikini earned neither frowns nor smiles from me. But now, moving on to this book.

I liked it. Great improvement.

There was a defined pause here that allowed for character growth, something I missed in the first novel. Characters, in my opinion, make any book: their feelings, dreams, hopes, etc. are what shape plots and create motivators. So I ask you, how does a mysterious affair form (in order for a novel to be categorized as a mystery) if there aren’t substantial characters? I get that these are supposed to be a light books, but still. Like I said, there was allowed room for character growth and I felt like Aphra was more rounded, as were the backup characters. Probably cos the setup’s already there from the first novel.

Some details of the mystery were a bit iffy for me because they were either based on stretches or coincidences. But looking at the overall picture, it was another great improvement. The buildup was quite good and the mystery itself, when you got up to it, was adorably knotting. (Yes, such a thing is possible. You know, beachy-baffling?) And while like I said before some details were sketchy, others were immaculate and clever; Ms Gerber clearly saw all the opportune moments in which to include clues and twists in.

But still, my favoritest (dumb neologism *grin*) part was the fact the pacing was just right—not too fast, not too slow.

If you’re looking for a light read, knock yourself out. You can read this without reading the first and not miss much, so...yeah. Have fun, kids.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reviewer = Writer?

Okay, so my question to you is—which of the reviewers are also writers?

There’s some stereotype that says all reviewers (or book bloggers, or something like that) are aspiring authors. Accurate?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle

Summary

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today's bestselling teen authors John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Grade: C, surprisingly enough

Thank you to JL for this book!

Memorable Quotes/Lines: ARC, though you may find one particular scary line on John Green's bit below.

Available in stores September 11, 2008.

Review:
Okay, so, this novel wasn’t great. I thought the three stories were well interlaced—the authors obviously worked this down to the detail for the junction to make sense—but...

Story by story analysis:

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson
Plot: Jubilee has to leave her boyfriend (who will proceed to not even call her) on Christmas Eve because when a family emergency comes up, she has to get down to Florida ASAP. So she goes onboard a train and on the way to the Orange State, they get stuck in the middle of the biggest snow storm in 50 years. She hops off the train and goes into a Waffle House twenty feet or so from where they stopped because they got snowed in. There, she meets this guy who shows her that her boyfriend is an asshole. Jubilee must decide whether or not she believes this guy, Stuart, and what she’ll do about it.

Believe it or not, I’ve never read any Maureen Johnson books before. I did, however, fall in love with her writing in this one. I hope the very elaborate, very clever sense of humor here is a trademark quality of hers. I adored it, enough to put one of her titles I have in my room next on my reading pile.

The plot wasn’t the most original, and we all know that in will-she-or-won’t-she stories, she almost always will, so it’s no surprise there how this ends. However, these are holiday romances, so I knew not to expect phenomenal. A little rushed to get on with the book and the other two authors, sure, but by far the best contribution to this book. B

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green
Plot:
Two best friends realize they have deeper feelings for each other.

Ah, Mr. Green’s story. Mollusks are raining down on us, for the apocalypse has cometh. I am about to give a work of his something worse than a negative review—an indifferent review. Instead of stimulating me, of taking my breath away, like he did with both Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, he left me with a very dry, bitter aftertaste. Oh, no no no.

My biggest gripe in this short story is the writing. Gone is the humor that is Green’s stock and trade and in its place sits humor of the slapstick variety that is neither befitting of John’s talent, nor very funny. Case in point: “I always forget the Waffle House is like Lindsay Lohan’s legs: always open.” Oh no no no. I remember in Paper Towns there was a line that went something like “If I only had one day to live, I would spend it inside school, where days always seems to last a million years.” That kind of humor is worthy of John’s name on the cover.

Also, I don’t know what happened, but the style is so, so different than John’s usual. It read like inexperienced chick-lit. Too many awkward, long-winded sentences with conjunctions like “and” connecting clauses upon clauses, forcing me to go back over multiple paragraphs to grasp their meaning. Think Nicole’s internal monologue in Take Me There by Susane Colasanti with less periods.

The characters were realistic, but this isn’t because John’s a master at making them come to life in a hundred or so pages—it’s more to do with the fact they felt like slightly altered incarnations of previous Green Novels cast members. I know some people claim there’s always some sort of a formula included in John’s novels, but this is the first time I felt like there’s real validity behind that statement.

Romance was okay, if a little unfounded. I liked it enough to let the awkward buildup to it go. Perhaps the only other positive besides the characters (which carry their own burden because of the recycling thing).

All in all, not John’s best. Not by a longshot. If you come across this first before reading Alaska or Paper Towns, please, please, please try to get either of those before this so you understand this author’s stellar talent. I know I had to grab Alaska off my shelf while reading this last night just to make sure it was the book I remembered was the same one I’d read. Surely enough, it’s still amazing. This, however, is not. C-

The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle
Plot:
Addie tries to figure out if her relationship with her boyfriend she cheated on a week ago will be okay. She can’t get hold of him anywhere and since they were supposed to meet on Christmas Eve and he never showed, she’s worried. Where is he?

I liked the characters okay. They were a little sketchy at parts, especially when Lauren Myracle tried describing the Jewish ones, which came across...weirdly. Also, sometimes it was hard to believe the three leads (Addie and her best friends) were the age they were depicted to be, due to their random bursts of immaturity.

Now, what I liked here was that Addie in particular wasn’t sympathetic at all (at least in my book), but I thought she was compelling. Yes, a lot less when she was being self-absorbed or immature, which was a lot, but I still liked her.

Plot, romance, et al, were okay. (The romance bit especially. I liked it.) Personally enjoyed this story more than John Green’s (and decidedly less than Maureen Johnson’s—Maureen knocked the attention competition out of the water with hers). I’ve never been a Myracle fan, and this story didn’t tip the scales in any way. C+



Let It Snow in a word: Meh. Average. Not the worst you can do, but definitely not the best, either. Flawed but still enjoyable at parts. It'll be out in paperback straight off, so that's a plus if you must absolutely get it. If you're just looking for a good collection of holiday love stories, I'd recommend Lurlene McDaniel's How I Love Thee before this one.

Oh, Oh, Oh

Oh, say it isn't so. I got an ARC of an anticipated fall novel featuring one of my all-time favorite authors. I have never short of loved any work by this author.

Except for this author's contribution here.

This is depressing. Bah. What do you do with a broken heart like this? >.<

Review coming shortly.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reviewer Profile: From The Corner of Megan's Mind

Oh my God, blogger didn't post my scheduled post! I'm so sorry, Megan - I was planning on posting this on your birthday (the 16th), but Blogger totally messed up and I didn't even notice. >.< So sorry. Happy belated birthday!

Name: Megan
Alias: paperxxflowers (which is pretty much useless because of the name of my blog)
Headquarters: From the Corner of Megan’s Mind (http://www.paperxxflowers.blogspot.com/)
Mission: To connect with other book lovers, and turn non book lovers into book lovers!
Genres: Mostly YA/Teen, but I have been known to deviate in other directions.

What's your occupation by day?
Working student and girlfriend, parliamentary freak (I believe you call me Madame President)

What made you decide to tackle this whole blog reviewer biz?
Since I live in a small town, there aren’t many people who are really into reading books outside of school. Yes, we have a book club, but it’s a bunch of older ladies. So I came online to find people I could talk to without annoying them with all my book talking, and viola – the beginning of my blog. I started posting reviews once I realized that I would review books for my friends anyways… so why not post them?

What are your blog's strong points?
I’m pretty honest with my reviews (and my blog’s a bit more personal now). Of course, lots of people come for the author feature and/or mystery contests.

How are you in terms of negative reviews? Are you afraid of posting them? How do you handle them?
I’m definitely not a fan of negative reviews. If (and sometimes it seems to happen) I end up having to write a negative review, I try to put something positive in it as well… and remind readers that this is just my opinion.

What are the best aspects of being a reviewer?
If I didn’t say the free books, you all know I would be lying. But other than that, I just love being able to talk about books with others (who have actually read them, and are as enthusiastic about them as I am.)

In your opinion, where lies the heart of a good book?
Hmm… I’ve read many opinions about this one, but I believe that a good book is original, has a mildly decent plot, and the characters are well-developed.

What books have blown your mind? Which authors?
I recently read Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and thought it was amazing. Seriously. It was one of those rare books that I started reading again right after I finished it.

I know she isn’t YA, but Laurell K. Hamilton is pretty awesome. If I feel like reading something I’ve already read, 97% of the time I’ll pick one of her books.

Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning. It’s not out yet, but just reading the first one makes me immediately want to go out and buy the others in the series… but of course I can’t.

Now for a sneaky question: Which currently-released/forthcoming books are you dying to read?
Currently released: A Curse as Dark as Gold, Ink Exchange, The Circle of Blood, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

Forthcoming: Breaking Dawn and Brisingr (of course), Untamed (House of Night Novel), Inkdeath, Revelations (A Blue Blood Novel), Identical

What are some of your other passions and interests?
I can play flute and saxophone (the result of some very interesting years in band). I’m a huge photography buff. You usually don’t see me anywhere without my camera.

Can you roll your tongue or do other nifty stuff?
I can roll my tongue and do the clover trick! Aren’t I cool?

What music are you constantly tuning in to?
(older) Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, 311, Jack Johnson, Sublime, the Cranberries, (older) Green Day, Matchbox 20, (older for both) Weezer and White Stripes. Some random techno and rap/hip hop songs. I’ve got a pretty strange taste.

What are you favorite movies and TV shows?
Movies: Ten Things I Hate About You, Almost Famous, Nightmare before Christmas

TV Shows: Gilmore Girls (definitely! I have almost every season), Law and Order: SVU

Young Adult or death?
… must you even ask?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What Book Am I Thinking Of?

Gah, I'm so bored, it's not even funny. I don't know if anyone's coming on here right now, but if you are, come and indulge me in my childish exploits! :)

So, game time. I start:

My name is the same as a famous female poet; my last name is a color. I'm in a band called She Laughs. I'm trying to find my mother through my music. I was written by a 2008 debut author, but said author is not a Class of 2k8er.

... someone guesses who I'm talking about, and from which book, and then channels a character of their choice for someone else to guess. Keep the ball rolling :)

Have fun!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Young Adult Weekly (Week of August 10th - 16th)

Hey, all! As you know, this is the return of my weekly segment on the YA book world. In the past, while I was actively doing this, remember how I included author and reviewer links, as well as new releases for that week?

Well, that was boring me. (And also, some other reviewers started doing the exact same thing >.< )Check out one of the new YA Weekly features, a weekly contest to accompany it. Other new features will be made prominent when I have enough resources ;)

... hope you enjoy! Also, if you're looking for a more frequent update in the book world, go over to YA Fabulous. Now that site rocks this newsreel bit!

From the authors...

A.S. King
(The Dust of 100 Dogs) has got her own property here on Reviewer X - scroll down to the end of my sidebar! She's also in the middle of copyedits. Visit her over on MySpace and leave comments begging for more frequent, ACTUAL blog updates.

Alexa Young (Frenemies) talks about double entredes and wordplays, a subject inspired by the first ever Alexa-sighting of a preschool book on cutting. Take from that what you will.

Jennifer Ziegler (How NOT To Be Popular) kindly donated one of her books for this week's giveaway. She's got a cyber-hugs credit statement from Reviewer X. Thanks, Jenny!


Melissa Walker (Violet In Private) wrote what I think may be the best blog post this week. You know the Olympic Opening Ceremony singer switchup fiasco? Well, Melissa wrote her own thoughts on that, which I agree with 100%. Thanks for that, Melissa.

Debbie Reed Fischer (Braless in Wonderland) has been getting positive buzz on her forthcoming novel from Flux, Swimming With The Sharks. In that same post, she also talks about the Olympic Opening Ceremony singer switchup.

Cecilia Galante (The Patron Saint of Butterflies)'s debut, Patron Saint of Butterflies, is one of the NAIBA Book of the Year Award winners! It is also on Oprah's first ever list of best books for kids! [Via email from Cecilia - congrats!]

Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) is very, very close to having her website go live. She'd love any tips about what she can add in for content - scurry over, avid reader people!

Aprilynne Pike (Wings) blogs about all the exciting stuff you can expect from the Feast of Awesome 2009 Debutantes, a group she's part of. May I just say, that group's hot. Cannot wait to see their books hit shelves. Visit them online at http://feastofawesome.com/ (best. URL. ever.)

Elizabeth Scott (Living Dead Girl)'s book, Perfect You, is in its fourth print run in the three months since its release; Stealing Heaven is in its second. This is a bit delayed, as far as news reporting goes, but yay Elizabeth!

This is from last month but funny anyhow: Libba Bray (The Sweet Far Thing) posted about funny t-shirt slogans. Example? EVERY TIME YOU POST WITH CAPS LOCK ON / ee cummings kills a kitten.

Justine Larbalestier (How To Ditch Your Fairy) talks about the difference between popular books and critically acclaimed books in black, white, and all the shades of gray.

Stephanie Kuehnert (I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone) is quitting her day job . . . !

Jennifer Echols (The Boys Next Door) shares her experiences with both styles of writing - in isolation and with critique partners.




From the reviewers...
(The reviewers included here are for the most part randomly added. If you're not one of the ones regularly added [sorry about that, but there are so many on my blogroll], feel free to email me to have your link added next week.)

Smart Bitches Trashy Books are very awesome not only by virtue, but also because they reviewed a YA book this week! Check out their review of Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott.

Reviewer X reviewed The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (with QnA) and Teach Me by R. A. Nelson.

The Ravenous Reader has got a set of mini reviews going. She also reviewed The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray.

nineseveneight reviewed Truancy by Isamu Fukui, Twice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris, and Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block.

Presenting Lenore reviewed Rules for Saying Goodbye by Katherine Taylor and Death by Latte by Linda Gerber. She also interviewed a publist.
Page Flipper reviewed White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean.

All Five Stars reviewed Severed Ties by Kevin Krohn.

Book Chic reviewed What Happens Here by Tara Altebrando, Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël, and The Guy Next Door by Carol Culver.

Pop Culture Junkie reviewed Violet in Private by Melissa Walker.

Becky's Book Reviews reviewed Stop in the Name of Pants by Louise Rennison.

Plenty of Paper
reviewed The Elite by Jennifer Banash.

bookshelves of doom reviewed How To Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier.

From the Corner of Megan's Mind (still lusting after your title, Megan) reviewed The Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard.

Frenetic Reader reviewed Local Girls by Jenny O'Connell and Rich Boys by Jenny O'Connell.

Kelsey from Just Blinded Book Reviews had her first interview this week! Check out her chat with Such a Pretty Girl and Leftovers author, Laura Wiess.

Becky's Book Reviews reviewed Stop in the Name of Pants by Louise Rennison.

Contest inventory...
[Best source of contest links in the YA book blogger world is Book Muncher's list.]

Elizabeth Scott is always having awesome contests, but I think she may have outdone herself in this one. The prize is FIVE books of your choice for FIVE winners. Go enter. Ah, here's wishing I were a US-lander.

Bookluver Carol is having a contest where first place winner gets two books of their choice from her selection and second place winner gets one. Among the prizes are Evernight by Claudia Gray, Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs (signed), and Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Win The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas over at Book Chic's blog. [Ends today]

Chelsea (Page Flipper)'s weekly contests are back! This week you can win Westminster Abby by Micol Ostow.



Released this week...

New Yorker Gillian Chang starts her second term at posh SpencerAcademy boarding school in San Francisco prepared to focus on her studies, her faith, and her friends. She plays a dozen musical instruments and can recite the periodic table of the elements backward. She's totally prepared for everything--except love! She's falling hard for Lucas Hayes, who isn't even a senior yet and is already aiming at a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford. The problem is, she never seems to be able to measure up and be the girlfriend he wants. He's under a lot of pressure from his parents to achieve--maybe that's why he's short-tempered sometimes. But even a thick-skinned girl like Gillian can only take so much.

With her heart on the line, Gillian conceals more and more from her friends. So when she's accused of selling exam answer sheets, even her girlfriends, Lissa Mansfield and Carly Aragon, wonder if it can be true. Gillian will need the power of honesty--with herself and with Lucas--to show what she's really made of.


Dumbfounded by Matt Rothschild (I. Want. This. Book!)
What fresh hell is this?

I stopped, dumbfounded. My grandmother was at my bedroom door. “What the hell are you doing?” she asked, surprised but not angry. I looked down at my dress. “Playing school.” My grandmother began stroking her chin. Clearly, there were several ways she could take this conversation. “Matthew, what are you wearing?” I could see that she didn’t really want to ask this question but felt she had to. “A dress,” I said. . . . “And where did you get this dress?” she asked. . . . “I found it?” My grandmother sighed. “So you’ve been wandering around the women’s department at JC Penney? Do you expect me to believe you couldn’t find a better dress than that?”

The only Jewish family in a luxury Fifth Avenue building of WASPs, the senior Rothschilds took over the responsibility of raising their grandson, Matt, after his mother left him for Italy and a fourth husband. But rearing Matt was no small task—even for his sharp-tongued grandmother, a cross between Lauren Bacall and Bea Arthur, and a lady who Matt grew to love deeply.

Matt secretly wore his grandmother’s dresses, shoplifted Barbies from FAO Schwarz, invented an imaginary midget butler who he addressed at dinner parties, and got kicked out of nearly every elite school in Manhattan—once for his impersonation of Judy Garland at a recital. He was eventually sent to a boarding school (his grandmother had to ransom off a van Gogh to get him in). But as funny as his hijinks are now, at the time they masked a Jewfroed, chubby, lovable kid, sexually confused and abandoned by his mother, trying to fit in among the precious genteel world he was forced to live in.

Matt Rothschild—the man David Sedaris could have been if he’d grown up in an esteemed family on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—tells the story of his childhood with humor, honesty, and unlikely compassion for his eccentric relatives, including his mother, in this bitingly entertaining and unexpectedly tender memoir of family dysfunction.


ERNIE HAS ARRIVED! And so has the future. Except it’s not the future Ned, Suzi, and Roop imagined. Vorg, the evil master of time, has traveled into the past and changed the future. MegaCity is no more. In fact, the planet’s a mess Kids everywhere are afraid of Vorg and his Klenn henchmen. It’s up to the Time Surfers to make things right again. With his best friend by his side, Ned is ready for an all-out battle to save the future. But is it too late?





SUMMER IS ALMOST here and there’s only one thing standing between Ned and freedom—his duty as a Time Surfer. When Roop and Suzi arrive from the future and tell Ned his surfie’s been seen around MegaCity, Ned knows he’s in big trouble. And with trouble comes Vorg. Vorg’s hatching a plan to eliminate the Time Surfers forever. And Ned Banks is first on his list.






Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Pena
DANNY’S TALL AND skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. A 95 mph fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.

But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico. And that’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he might just have to face the demons he refuses to see right in front of his face.


Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes by Peggy Gifford
It isn't as though Moxy isn’t grateful for her Christmas presents. She is. She’s just not thrilled that she has to write a thank-you note for each one by tomorrow . . . or she will not be allowed to fly to Hollywood to attend a starstudded.

Hollywood bash with the father she hasn’t seen in three years. And writing thank-you notes is not something that a world-class Creative Type relishes doing. But it is more than writing thank-you notes that finally prevents Moxy from taking her trip. When her father cancels at the last minute, Moxy is forced to deal with the reality of a situation she doesn’t want to accept, and can’t change. But, not surprisingly, she rises to the occasion brilliantly.


The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy
Jo Larouch has lived her 13 years in the California desert with her Aunt Lily, ever since she was dropped on Lily’s doorstep with this note: This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a dangerous baby. At Lily’s annual Christmas costume party, a variety of strange events take place that lead Jo and Lily out of California forever—and into the mysterious, strange, fantastical world of Eldritch City. There, Jo learns the scandalous truth about who she is, and she and Lily join the Order of Odd-Fish, a collection of knights who research useless information. Glamorous cockroach butlers, pointless quests, obsolete weapons, and bizarre festivals fill their days, but two villains are controlling their fate. Jo is inching closer and closer to the day when her destiny is fulfilled, and no one in Eldritch City will ever be the same.


Possession by Chris Humphreys
Rune, magic, time, travel, transformation: Sky’s grandfather opened up a world of limitless possibility . . . then asked the impossible. He asked Sky to kill a man. Sky and Kristin know they have to stop Sigurd. But how, when he can possess any person, any beast, at will? Once more, the answer is to be found back along the bloodlines. The secret of possession lies in Meg, an accused witch, and in Matthew, the Witchfinder determined to capture her. But the price for knowing what Sigurd knows is steep—to defeat their grandfather, will they have to become exactly like him?

In this thrilling conclusion to the Runestone Saga, the final choice between everlasting life and the necessity of death will be made at one of the great turning points in history—a battle, quite literally, for all time. And the outcome rests precariously on one final cast of the runes. . . .


THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD Joe is the ultimate trophy kid. His adoptive parents are Hollywood’s favorite power couple, Academy Award–winning actress Greta Powell and actor/director/political candidate Robert Francis. Life with them has been one big photo-op since Joe became a war orphan at the ripe old age of three. And what better way for Greta and Robert to celebrate how far Joe’s come—and how much they’ve helped him—than for Joe to describe his experiences in a moving autobiography?Of course, Greta and Robert don’t actually intend for Joe to write the book himself. Or for him to include any unflattering details about them. That’s why they’ve hired an experienced professional for the job. But Tom Dolan is no ordinary writer, and he’s determined to help Joe tell the real story of growing up with the two most famous celebrities in America. Even if it means going back to Joe’s homeland, with his image-conscious parents in tow. . . .


Beauty and the Bully by Andy Behrens
What wouldn’t a guy do to get the girl?

How will garage band front man Duncan ever get the attention of his goddess like classmate Carly, who’s so busy trying to save the world that she won’t even look in his direction? An idea hits him, literally: when Duncan accidentally bruises himself, Carly wants to know who punched him, and vows to take care of “poor widdle Dunky.” But as his black eye fades, so does Carly’s devotion. Duncan needs a plan. He needs impending danger. He needs a BULLY. The search is on.

This hilarious novel plays with the certainty that teenage boys will do just about anything to get a girl’s attention.

Next week on Reviewer X...
The usual =)

And now I leave you with...

Comment with "[contest entry]" to win a copy of Jennifer Ziegler's Alpha Dog. (Be SURE to include the "[contest entry]". Lots of people comment here for other reasons and I want to be sure you're entering the contest or not. Entries that do not clarify the such are NOT counted.)

Extra entries may be earned by blogging about it or adding a link to your contest sidebar. Contest goes on until next Young Adult Weekly!

--
That is all! Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blogroll Updated

'Ello, I just updated my blogroll. If you know me, have me on your blogroll but don't see your name on mine, or just plain want to appear on mine (flattered! :D), email or leave a comment. :)

Steph

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Heart You, Robert Pattinson

http://www.fearnet.com/MCNewsDetailPage.aspx?catid=30&mid=15526

When you were cast and read the book did you think, “Well I’m really beautiful so I’ll be good at this?”

Pattinson: No, I mean that’s kind of why I was kind of tortured before the casting. I read the book and was like “Well this is really dumb I’ll never ever… this is so pointless going up for the role.” Which is what a lot of the fans said, after I was initially cast. They were like “He wasn’t even on the shortlist!” It is kind of weird. I’ve spent a long time thinking, “How can I take the whole beautiful thing as an interpretation?” And I realized that it’s just Bella saying he’s so beautiful and she’s just in love with him and obsessed with him so he could be like a piece of cheese and she would think the same thing.

Bwahaha, if I ever had any doubt about him playing Edward before, I don't know. This dude rocks.

[Link via Occupation: Girl.]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Absolutely True Lessons of a Part-Time Reviewer

I'm part of this new blog on the block called Young Adult Book Bloggers. (Hmm, wonder what that blog's about...)

I just made my debut, so come check it out!

Title: The Absolutely True Lessons of a Part-Time Reviewer
Excerpt: Authors? Yeah, they’re (quite awesome) mortals. That ill-conceived idea that authors were deities? Yeah, well, while some are treated like such (JK Rowling, Philip Pullman [haha, the irony, he’s an atheist] Stephenie Meyer, etc), none of them truly are. They’re people just like you and me, and *gasp* they don’t mind being emailed! Asking to do an interview or something like that is all-right. You’ll even be surprised at who’ll say yes!
( click here to read the rest )

I'll be posting there every Wednesday, so keep your eye out for that!

Book Divas Blog Debut!

Hey guys! I just wanted to inform anyone who happens to be wandering in here that I have made my debut over at the Book Divas blog. My first post - since I didn't have anything special planned - was the The Adoration of Jenna Fox review I posted here a couple of days ago. If you'd like to see it on a different backdrop, click here. :)

Teach Me by R. A. Nelson

Summary
Carolina "Nine" Livingston is immediately drawn to her new English teacher, Mr. Mann, to his brilliant exploration of poetry in class*, and to the way he talks to her like an equal. What began as a friendship soon becomes more, as the two willfully tumble into a passionate romance that goes against every notion of right and wrong.

Teach Me invites readers inside an experience that fascinates everyone—an affair between a teacher and student—and gives an up-close-and-personal answer to the question: How does this happen?

* Lots of Emily Dickinson in here, if anyone's a fan. I really liked it.

Grade: B

Thank you, now and again, to JL for this book!

Memorable Quotes/Lines:
""Goodbye young lady," he says. "I hope you'll think about what we've said here today."
Young?
Goodbye, indeed." (Page 161)

Review:

What do Teach Me and The Adoration of Jenna Fox have in common?

Both writers—R. A. Nelson and Mary E. Pearson, respectively—are represented by Rosemary Stimola. Now, this may mean little to the casual observer, but having read both books, I found a common trait I really loved—clear, concise writing. Suffice it to say, me likey. Ms. Stimola has very nice taste.

Above all else, what I loved about this book was the writing. Actually, scratch that—the voice.

Wait, no, the writing.

Voice.

Writing.

Voice.

Writing—

Okay, I loved them both equally.

See, the reason why is very simple: The approach R. A. Nelson took to writing his character was very unique, and it rang out in her every thought, dialogue or action. The way she perceived the world, peculiar as it may be, was sharp with undertones of funny. (For instance, when bringing a patron his food, she referred to it as "I brought him his cholesterol".)

Interestingly enough, while I thought Nine was compelling and a realistic human being, I’m not sure just how convinced I am of her femininity. She stood very neutral ground, which is what makes it hard to determine how gender-specific her voice is. I suppose this is good, however, in the sense that guys can get something out of reading this book, too.

As most people know, this book deals with an affair between a teacher (Mr. Mann) and his pupil (Nine). I’ve often heard girls (or guys) who engage in relationships with their teachers being called stupid or something to that effect, which is why I liked the fact Nelson created Nine as a deeply intellectual (and admittedly impulsive) character. This is, in fact, what made her stand out to Mr. Mann, who in turn was too immature for his age. The combination made sense, and more than that, the relationship felt like a natural chain of events. The chemistry was there. Though the message of the book was exactly the opposite, of course—it was meant as a cautionary tale, not as an incentive. But not preachy, never preachy.

Overall, I thought the entire first three-quarters or so of the book were brilliant. And then...

The resolution was a bit anti-climatic. Sure, it worked on some level, but I was hoping for a lesson to have come out of it. Not because what she did was "wrong" (I’m not here to judge, and they only consummated the relationship after she was 18) but because the relationship itself was clearly dysfunctional. After the affair ends (for reasons unbeknownst to the reader at the time—squee! for plot), Nine goes into a post-romance insanity. That’s what made Teach Me sparkle—her raw emotions. By the end, however, she just kind of gets over it with what I felt was very little motivation. Moreover, this plot twist with her best friend in the last few chapters (which, like with my review, he wasn’t mentioned in substantial detail until the very end) left a big question mark for me. What happens to him? Does he get over it?

Final verdict: Check-plus on everything leading up to the climax, poof, deflation at the eleventh hour. I’d recommend the book, purely on its initial substance and style, especially to people who like reading about taboo subjects. But don’t be surprised if you’re a little put off by the ending.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Have No Creativity

...which is why I can't come up with a decent post title. >.<

Anyhow, I seem to have been tagged quite a lot! I won't name names because *fidgets* I know I saw my name on some blogs I can't seem to find right now, and that's embarassing.

Sorry >.<

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Eating paste or... I don't know. Kidding, though, I never did enjoy the taste of paste. Blech. To be perfectly honest, I might've been reading. You know. Picture books.

What are five things on my to-do list today?

I was supposed to get a review up, but on account of my having slept the entire afternoon, I didn't. Oops >.<

Places I've lived:

...not telling :) But it's been many a locale.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

At the risk of sounding cliché, I'd look into doing something for the greater good. If I had that much money, I wouldn't stop with charities - I'd look for a way I could create an organization or something to facilitate some area of the world in need. Beyond that there's the obvious helping my parents out, putting a chunk of it in a trust fund for myself and for future generations in my family, and maybe live off the interest.

I tag... No one. Seems like everyone's done this one :)

Steph

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson + Book QnA

Summary
Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.

Grade: A

Thank you to SH for this book!

Memorable Quotes/Lines:
Are the details of our lives who we are, or is it owning those details that makes the difference?

Isn't that what all of life is anyway?
Shards. Bits. Moments.
Am I less because I have fewer, or do the few I have mean more?
Am I just as fell as anyone else? Enough?
Pieces.
Allys saying "I like you."
Gabriel snorting out bread, freeing me to laugh.
And Ethan reminding me how much I do know.
Pieces.
I hold them like they are life itself.
They nearly are.

...and so many more.

Review:

I have a fetish for books with butterfly covers. Seriously. What first attracted me to The Adoration of Jenna Fox was that winged bug you see prominent on the cover. Isn’t it pretty?

And I’ll tell you what, the premise was nothing short of the cover’s potential, either.

Jenna wakes up from a year-long coma. Well, at least that’s how long her parents tell her it’s been. See, she doesn’t remember anything. Which doesn’t go to say she’s not curious—she’s very much curious. Curious as to why her grandmother acts weirdly around her. Curious about the fact she can’t eat anything. Curious about her parents’ strange behavior. But more than anything, she’s curious about the person she used to be—did she have any friends? What was she like?

If you didn’t know it yet, this novel is set in the future. A future that, if the book jacket is to be trusted, "may be closer than we think".

Let’s talk about this future. Science has reached the point where the power it gave the tyrants in control of it (that is, us humans) an advantage to create chaos. The issue of ethics is often the subject of wild debate, even more heated than nowadays. The world is incredibly dreary—to the brink with bureaucratic institutions created to regulate (and essentially control) all scientific advances and procedures.

Sound too technical? It really isn’t. Pushing all the ethical and moral dilemmas aside, an equally important theme of exploration present here is that of humanity. What makes a living being a person and all that. It’s quite fascinating because Ms Pearson takes an entirely unorthodox approach to the discovery of this value. Her writing is powerful in this sense also, as it is muted and subtle.

Which is something I wanted to talk about, actually: the writing. I’m accustomed to skipping over a lot of info-dump paragraphs while reading. I do this by default and usually understand the text pretty well anyway. I guess Mary Pearson wasn’t having any of that though, because first time I tried doing that, I ended up having to go back several paragraphs to see what I missed. Second time, backtracked several pages.

It’s call word-economy. Tight writing. Something I really, really appreciate.

Personally, it’s pertinent for everyone—teens, adults—to read this novel. The characters were identifiable, the situations familiar in the respect they made sense as a destination to the path we’re on, and the plot was clever. This novel’s a real gem.

Book QnA (with Mary!)

*possible spoilers ahead*

Did The Adoration of Jenna Fox go through many changes from the first draft to the final draft? How long were you at work on it -- from its very genesis in your mind -- to publication? (Thanks to The Ravenous Reader for this question.)

The first seeds of this story were planted in Spring of 2000. In the fall of 2003 I began doing a lot of research for the story but I didn’t actually begin writing it until March of 2004. I finished the first draft in June of ‘06, so it took me a little over two years just to get to that point. And then the revisions began, which ended up totaling about five different drafts. So, from genesis to publication was eight years–and a very long process!

Jenna's grandmother has a hard time accepting accepting Jenna. This is largely because she's not sure what to make of Jenna. What do you think makes a person human?

That is a tough question and even after exploring it in this story I am not sure I have the answer. I think it has to do with something outside of yourself though, an awareness and caring, perhaps even to your own detriment, for someone else. An element of sacrifice. But I am already realizing that doesn’t quite describe it either. I suppose the answer is personal and fluid for all of us.

Did Mr. Thoreau’s revelation at the end have any sort of significance in relation to Jenna?

I think several of Mr. Thoreau’s thoughts from Walden spoke to Jenna’s situation. And the last line quoted, “Or in silence passed by as true today may turn out to be a falsehood tomorrow,” I think especially echoed Jenna and her grandmother’s thoughts about how the world changes. What I liked about using Walden is that even though it was written a couple of hundred years earlier, many of the ideas were still relevant to Jenna’s life. Some ideas are universal and timeless like, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” That’s about as true and timeless as it gets.

Are you inspired from events that have happened in your life when you write your stories?

Absolutely. "Life" is what books are all about and every event that happens and every person I meet affects how I feel about things, and perhaps more importantly as a writer, how I wonder about things. Wondering and exploring is what writers do. Without things happening in our lives we would have nothing to question or wonder about. So, specific events may not show up in my stories, but they certainly get the wheels turning.

Are you working on anything right now?

I am finishing final revisions on my next book which should be out in Fall '09. The title is still being discussed, though I am fairly certain my editor and I have settled on one that we both love. It's a larger than life type of story about four teens who take off on an unauthorized road trip. It is quite different from my previous books, and after the intensity of my last two, this one has a fun and outrageous quality to it.

What do you hope the reader will remember or take away after they have read one of your books?

There’s a hundred different answers to that depending on the book and the reader but a few thoughts . . . I hope that perhaps they will remember seeing themselves and feeling less alone, or remember stretching to ponder new ideas or viewpoints, or remember walking in someone else’s shoes and gaining a new perspective, or perhaps simply remembering a fond few hours where they were able to escape into a different world where they shared a journey with me.