Monday, April 26, 2010

Secret Society by Tom Dolby

No spoilers.

Secret Society
Author: Tom Dolby
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA
Pages: 341
First Line: "Even the most seasoned walks through Manhattan's Central Park often miss Cleopatra's Needle."
Summary: An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The scion of one of New York's wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker. As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about.

They didn't ask to be Society members. But when three of them receive a mysterious text message promising success and fame beyond belief, they say yes to everything. Even to the harrowing initiation ceremony in a gritty warehouse downtown, and to the ankh-shaped tattoo they're forced to get on the nape of their necks.

Once they're part of the Society, things begin falling into place for them. Week after week, their ambitions are fulfilled. It's all perfect -- until a body is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks except for an ankh-shaped tattoo.

Source: Back of book

Review: The beginning of this book was really good. But I found about one-fourth through was slow-moving and boring. It was almost as if the majority of the book was a filler and the author was just writing to get to the end in order to bait the reader for the sequel. I will say that Tom Dolby's writing style was ambiguous -- if I hadn't known it was a man who wrote it, I would have guessed a woman had. I don't know if that's good or bad but that's that. The book wasn't nearly as interesting as I had expected or hoped.

Worst part: The entire book pretty much felt like it was a set of filler chapters.

Best part: The club scenes were pretty good. Interesting.

Grade: D

Other Books by This Author: The Sixth Form and The Trouble Boy

Note: It might be interesting to note that the author, Tom Dolby, is a (very attractive) graduate of Yale. I enjoyed flipping to the back cover to enjoy the photograph of him.

30 / 50 books. 60% done!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trick of the Mind by Judy Waite

No spoilers.

Trick of the Mind
Author: Judy Waite
Year of Publication: 2003
Genre: YA
Pages: 263
First Line: "I never dreamed I'd hurt Matt, but everything got so muddled."
Summary: When Erin first sees Matt, she knows he's the one for her. Trouble is, Matt's got his eye on someone else. But Erin is willing to do whatever it takes to make Matt see her as more than a friend, including teaching him some of her precious magic tricks. With all his problems at home, Matt's glad to have a friend like Erin. So what if Erin thinks he's interested? He'll sort that out later.

But when Matt's world begins to crumble, it seems like Erin and her magic might be his last hope. Only, sometimes it's hard to believe in magic. Especially when reality turns really ugly. . .

Source: Back of book

Review: Ergh. *twitch* This book was like reading two different novels (not just because of the dual POV). Half-way through the book, I felt like I had suddenly started reading another novel. It wasn't very well written, totally unfocused, and with unlikable characters. The end was entirely inconclusive (cliff-hanger aside) and the book was generally disappointing. It's disjointed and takes forever to go anywhere, if at all. Definitely not worth the effort of reading it.

Worst part: The book seemed totally pointless, which annoys me to no end.

Best part: I liked the uh. . .pigeon. That's about it.

Grade: D-

Other Books by This Author: Shopoholic and Forbidden.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys by Kate Brian

No spoilers.

Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys
Author: Kate Brian
Year of Publication: 2005
Genre: YA
Pages: 266
First Line: "'Megan, we need to talk.'"
Summary: Megan is used to moving from place to place -- it's typical for an army brat. But she drew the line at South Korea. She insisted on staying in the States to finish her last two years of high school. So her parents made arrangements for Megan to live with their friends, the McGowans...and the McGowans' 7 sons.

Turns out, living with 7 boys might as well be a foreign country! The boys are messy. They are cliquey (who knew?). And worst of all, two of the oldest boys are H-O-T. (A problem considering they are supposed to be Megan's "brothers.") Megan is definitely in enemy territory. She needs to win over the boys' hearts without totally crushing her own.

And when Megan starts falling for one of them, sibling rivalry takes ona whole new meaning. . .

Source: Back of book

Review: I found this book was set up and described very much like a movie. The ending scene, for example, is right out of the silver screen. Not a fantastic book, but not horrendous. Somewhat predictable. Likable characters, aside from Megan who was kind of annoying at some points. I felt the book would have been better had it been told in the first person, but it wasn't the end of the world. I'm always looking for mixed family "forbidden" relationships (ie Derek/Casey Life with Derek), but there never seems to be much out there (any recommendations?). So this one wasn't the best book I've ever read but not necessarily a waste of time.

Worst part: Hmm...things with Miller occurred too quickly, I think. I wish the entire book had been across more time, too. Instead, it's only a week or two, which I felt was kind of unrealistic, considering the events.

Best part: Miller. He was awesome. Aside from the whole Yankees thing, of course.

Grade: C+

Other Books by This Author: Private, the Virginity Club and The Princess and the Pauper.

26 / 50 books. 52% done!

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

No spoilers.

Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA, fantasy
Pages: 391
First Line: "Chauncey was with a farmer's daughter on the grassy banks for the Loire River when the storm rolled in, and having let his gelding wander in the meadow, was left to his own two feet to carry him back to the chateau."
Summary: Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen -- and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.
Source: Back of book

Review: Why, Stephenie Meyer -- I didn't realize you also wrote under the pen name of Becca Fitzpatrick! Seriously, this is just Twilight with angels standing in for vampires. The two meet in a bio class, Patch tells Nora he's dangerous, he sends mixed signals. . .Nora is a moron, you get the picture. Patch is, for the most part, a jerk, but has his saccharine sweet moments, but it's still not original. The writing isn't awful but gets tedious. There will be, according to the back of the book (or the Internet?) a sequel, which I may or may not read. If I do, it's only for further comparison to Meyer. Probably not worth the time if you didn't like Twilight.

Worst part: The total lack of originality. So many things paralleled Meyer's stuff.

Best part: I liked Patch's name. And his Irish friend was pretty awesome. And I guess the whole pool thing was nice, 'cause I like pool.

Grade: D+

Other Books by This Author: None.

27 / 50 books. 54% done!

Fallen by Lauren Kate

No spoilers.

Author: Lauren Kate
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA, fantasy
Pages: 452
First Line: "Around midnight, her eyes at last took shape."
Summary: There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, and the other students are screwups, and security cameras watch every move.

Except Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce -- he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.

Source: Back of book

Review: Once again, very Twilight-esque. Not particularly well-written, Lauren Kate's book abandons characters only to pick them up again and remind the reader when it's convenient for the plot. One particularly engaging character was dropped for several chapters before appearing again. Motives were mixed and unclear and the plot was generally hard to follow. I felt like something was missing at the end and was fairly confused. Maybe this is just a way to get people to buy the second book? Because I'm not sure if it's worth it for any other reason.

Worst part: It was totally confusing, especially toward the end.

Best part: Having a regular name for a supernatural character was a breath of fresh air.

Grade: D+

Other Books by This Author: The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove.

28 / 50 books. 56% done!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles


Leaving Paradise
Author: Simone Elkeles
Year of Publication: 2010
Genre: YA
Pages: 303
First Line: "I've been waiting a year for this moment."
Summary: Caleb Becker spent the past year in juvenile detention.

Maggie Armstrong spent the past year in hospitals and physical therapy.

Two teens who were scarred one fateful night are going to have to face their greatest challenge yet -- meeting up with each other again.

Source: Back of book

Review: LOVE. I picked up this book because I had read another of Elkeles' books and loved it. This one was just as good. There was only one thing I disliked about the book (discussed in "worst part"). Other than that, there were only a few predictable plot elements and such. But I highly recommend this book and dearly look forward to reading the sequel, which is due out this summer.

BEGIN SPOILER Worst part: So the worst part was that he didn't really hit her. Leah did. Which I think totally messes up everything. It sort of ruins part of the tension. Even if Maggie doesn't know it, it still ruins it for the reader and makes the relationship less special somehow. END SPOILER

Best part: Hmmm. Caleb.

Grade: A-

Other Books by This Author: Perfect Chemistry.

25 / 50 books. 50% done!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Perfect Elizabeth by Libby Schmais

Title: The Perfect Elizabeth
Author: Libby Schmais
Year of Publication: 2000
Genre: Romance, realistic
Pages: 228
First Line: "A phone is ringing in the distance."
Summary: This modern-day Sense and Sensibility is a witty story about two sisters: Liza, a would-be poet who spends miserable days as a legal secretary; and Bette, a graduate student writing her dissertation on Toast in the English Novel. Bette has taken to eating only what the characters is is writing about would eat: boiled eggs on toast, mincemeat, nice cups of tea...Liza's a bit concerned. She's also worried about the status of her relationship with her actor boyfriend, Gregor. They're not living together, and that's a problem.

Then there's the issue of Liza's career, or the lack thereof. Can dog-walking be considered a vocation? Liza's beginning to think so. Mercifully, Bette is merely a local phone call away.

Source: Back of book

Review: This book was incredibly choppy. The author ended every paragraph with some action or even that was supposed to be super symbollic and telling which was just really annoying. In general, it was pretty bad. I felt like it was going nowhere the whole time. The characters weren't easy to be attached to, and the plot was boring. S&S happens to be my favorite Jane Austen book (so far) and I was super disappointed in this one.

Worst part: The choppiness was just horrendous. There would be three sentences and then a page break, three or four more, a page break, two paragraphs together, a page break. . .ugh.

Best part: I liked Tad. That's about it.

Grade: D

Other Books by This Author: Living Well with Cancer.

24 / 50 books. 48% done!

Nightlight: A Parody by the Harvard Lampoon

Minor spoilers.

Nightlight: A Parody
Author: The Harvard Lampoon
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: Parody
Pages: 154
First Line: "The hot Phoenix sun glared down on the car windowsill where my bare, pallid arm dangled shamelessly."
Summary: About three things I was absolutely certain.

First, Edwart was most likely my soul mate, maybe.

Second, there was a vampire part of him -- which I assumed was wildly out of control -- that wanted me dead.

And third, I unconditionally, irrevocably, impenetrably, heterogeneously, gynecologically, and disreputably wished he had kissed me.

And thus Belle Goose falls in love with the mysterious and sparkly Edwart Mullen in the Harvard Lampoon's hilarious send-up.

Pale and klutzy, Belle arrives in Switchblade, Oregon, looking for adventure, or at least an undead classmate. She soon discovers Edwart, a super-hot computer nerd with zero interest in girls. After witnessing a number of strange events -- Edwart leaves his Tater Tots (TM) untouched at lunch! Edwart saves her from a flying snow ball! -- Belle has a dramatic revelation: Edwart is a vampire. But how can she convince Edwart to bite her and transform her into his eternal bride, especailly when he seems to find girls so repulsive?

Complete with romance, danger, insufficient parental guardianship, creepy stalkerlike behavior, and a vampire prom, Nightlight is the uproarious tale of a vampire-obsessed girl, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Source: Back of book

Review: It takes a lot for a book to make me laugh out loud. This one did it. I really should have tagged some of the best lines, but this was so funny. I was slightly confused with how they did things at the end -- it wasn't QUITE a parody at that point, as the plot had taken a different direction. And they missed some scenes in Twilight that would have been SO perfect for this book, but I'm sure they left it out in the interest of brevity as well as in the interest of being original, as the book has been made fun of so much. It's a super fast book, and definitely worth the few hours.

I highly recommend this, especially if you've already read the Twilight series. I'd be even more interested to read a parody done by the Harvard Lampoon of Breaking Fail Dawn.

Worst part: Some things were missing. They definitely should have played up how much Bella looks like Steph Meyer.

Best part: Some of the lines were just perfect. Belle was characterized perfectly. One line in particular had to do with how interchangeable her friends are -- and it's so true. I remember reading Twilight literally five times, and I still couldn't get the human-friends straight.

Grade: A-

Other Books by This Author: THL has done a ton of stuff.

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Dashwood Sister's Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton

No spoilers.

The Dashwood Sister's Secrets of Love
Author: Rosie Rushton
Year of Publication: 2005
Genre: YA, romance,
Pages: 325
First Line: "It wasn't long ago that photographs of the Dashwood sisters' ancestors -- yellow with age, the occasional school picture of Ellie, Abby, and Georgie tucked into the edge of the frame -- hung along the long, winding staircase at Holly House, the Dashwood family's home for generations."
Summary: The Dashwood sisters -- Ellie, Abby, and Georgie -- have always lived an affluent life in their beloved Holly House in Sussex. Then one day, tragedy strikes, and the girls are forced to uproot their lives and move to Norfolk, a windswept county on the east coast of England. The sisters are devastated, but what starts off as the toughest challenge they've ever had to face quickly becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

Practical Ellie has always had her head firmly on her shoulders, until she loses it over a boy named Blake. He's perfect, except for two not-so-tiny problems: he's her horrible stepmother's nephew, and he just happens to have a girlfriend.

For impulsive Abby, moving to such a sleepy village is tantamount to social suicide. To amuse herself, she decides to play matchmaker for a new friend at school, but her scheme backfires when the guy falls for her instead.

Even youngest sister Georgie finds herself in uncharted waters when suddenly boys are more interested in her for more than her love of extreme sports.

Source: Back of book

Review: Awe-some! I had debated on getting this book for AGES. Finally, my mom happened to pick it up and then I debated on actually reading it. The other day, I was bored with what I was reading so I decided to take a break and try this -- I am so glad I did. It's got a different style, the characters are fun (though maybe a little too undeveloped), and the plot is pretty decent. I'm not sure what, exactly, made it so enjoyable, but I really liked this one. I hated the font it was printed it, but what are you gonna do? Definitely recommended, especially if you like a "more mature" chick-lit. It's not super philosophical or anything, but it's less silly than a lot of chick-lit.

Worst part: I had issues with how some characters were undeveloped. It was as if Rushton avoided giving certain characters too many traits so she didn't mix them up or have traits that were in another person, as well.

Best part: I was surprised with how the life-changing event occurred. Honestly, I didn't see it coming. I probably should have, though.

Grade: B+

Other Books by This Author: Friends, Enemies; Poppy, Olivia; Melissa; Sophie; Just Don't Make a Scene, Mum!; How Could You Do This to Me, Mum?; I Think I'll Just Curl Up and Die and Where Do We Go From Here?

22 / 50 books. 44% done!