Friday, August 30, 2013

Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

Standalone. Simon Pulse (January 2012) Library
Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
 

Being uprooted from your home and your friends just before senior year pretty much can ruin the life of any teenager. Life gets pretty complicated for Isobel when her mom announces she is going to get married after dating a guy for three months and she is forced to move into his oversized mansion on an island that's not her home with his son who can't stand looking at her. Oh, and did I mention a ghost trying to send a message to her beyond the grave? Yeah, senior year is going to be different. Let's just hope Isobel survives it.

My mom usually borrows my library books when she needs something new to read during her breaks at work. After finishing Unraveling Isobel she kept on commenting that I needed to read it, I needed to read it. She wanted to discuss the end with me. I gave in. And I loved it. It was so entertaining, funny, and supremely suspenseful. Towards the end I would just walk into the room my mom was in and just have these outbursts of what I thought was going to happen (she does it all the time with me so I felt justified). The mystery and the supernatural side of the story were fantastic. I couldn't have hoped for better. It all came down in this amazing way. It's a fantastic book by an author that I must read more of.

So there's this whole thing with Isobel and her parents. Her mother doesn't like that she likes art. She doesn't think its "practical" but more likely she doesn't want her to end up like her father. You don't really get a sense of love between her and her mother. Mostly it's her mother who I find issue with. She treats her like she's going to end up like her father who had a mental breakdown and is schizophrenic. She sees what she could be, not who she is and I was so annoyed by that. Her and her father are estranged. It's really sad when she starts talking about him and her childhood with him. It was a sweet spot in the story that I liked. The whole thing with her is that she's worried she will end up like him. That she's "crazy". The author brings up the issue of schizophrenia in such a classy way. I really commend her on that. 

Her new family has had some issues with their family as well. Richard or Dick whom she endearingly calls, is her new stepfather whose wife and child died months ago. Dick is a pain. He's very just ugh. Her stepbrother, Nate, clearly is the love interest from day one and as you can see from the summary you know it's going down that way. He's very brooding in the beginning. he has her sense of humor and they get along fairly well in the beginning. He is her stepbrother but I didn't find it weird. As long as they aren't blood related I'm good. Others might not think the same.
"Remember, ghosts don't care if you believe in them. They can still believe in you."

The whole mystery around the deaths at the Morrigan Estate really made the story. The ghosts amplified that. Ghosts in books are always great especially when done right. It's done right in this book. I don't know what more to say but the combination of ghosts and mystery kept me on the edge of my seat. I absolutely loved the way the author made the story come to life in every single way. I will say that it took a little while to get used to the way Isobel spoke. She says a lot of metaphors to make you laugh. She is funny it's just a little different and might take some time to get used to. But, that and the stepbrother thing was it. This book was a success for me. 

Overall: Everything about this book was fantastic. There might be one or two things that readers might find problem with but other than that it was a riveting story and well worth looking over those tiny details.

I happen to be getting one of Cook's book from the library soon. Check out The Almost Truth

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Kate Grable #1. Delacorte Press (July 2011) Library
Someone's been a very bad zombie. Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate! She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town  . . . and stay hormonally human.




Kate is the quintessential nerdy girl who would love nothing more than to grow up and become a doctor but more importantly right now she wants to get the High School Quarterback to notice her. As luck would have it she's helps the football team out when they have medical issues so she can stalk Aaron, said quarterback, without seeming like an actual stalker. She also discovers some strange new vials of what she believes to be steroids. As she tries to get to the bottom of these strange events start happening. A new threat starts forming in that maybe what were in those vials weren't steroids but a virus that unbelievably makes zombies. With her friends and families lives at stake Kate rushes to find a cure before the virus spreads and it becomes too late to save anyone.

This book was frustrating. It appeared at first to be a funny zombie story that would be a light enough read that would safely lead me into the zombie world (This is the first zombie book I've finished). That was not the case. In fact this book that was supposed to be funny came off like it was trying too hard to get a laugh out of you when only towards the end I genuinely smiled once or twice. 

It was fast paced from the beginning and only at the end could I appreciate that because I really wanted to get through with this story and be over with it. Also, being that it was too face paced it neglected any actual background for the main character. I would have liked to know how she was before she took on the job to help out the team with medical issues. I guess she was in more of her shell? No one saw her? That makes sense for someone who prefers medicine and science than people BUT I want to be able to connect with this girl. It would have been nice if the author was more specific about that. Why bring it up at all if you are never going to mention it again?

I came to the point where I was forcing myself to finish this story because although I wasn't exactly enjoying it I was curious to know what happens at the end. After rolling my eyes a couple of chapters in it did get a little interesting. I couldn't get excited when the zombies actually attacked her because maybe it's me or maybe the story was already wearing me down, I don't know. But, when everything hit the fan I did enjoy the action because it felt real and justified. Although I was confused by how one of her friends was either so accepting that zombies were real or seemed to know what was going down already so she went with the flow. Honestly, I might have skipped something but I don't think I would have missed something like that.

I don't get why she has the friends she does. I couldn't see the connection with them. I just couldn't connect at all. The only person who I truly liked was Kate's younger brother Jonah. He was also a very nerdy person who even fashioning his own sword. He was at that age where he would squeak when he talked sometimes. I actually think I smiled more than I thought I did because of him. He was incredibly loyal and endearing. He was for sure the best character in the whole story.

Ugh. I must talk about the love interest jock. One minute she's lusting after him the next he's suddenly interested. She thought about him way too much when a whole zombie apocalypse situation was happening right in front of her. Their whole relationship was unrealistic and irritated me to no end. They would have to be the worst couple/romance thing I have ever come across other than in *cough cough* Perfect Chemistry. It's really bad people. 

The one last thing I will say is that other than Jonah there was one other part about this book I liked. I liked the cure. It was a very triumphant cure. It says something to the character. Your "weakness" is only a weakness if you think it to be one. I was actually impressed that it came down that way. Now I might try a zombie book in the future but I don't see myself continuing with this series. It had a couple of good moments but... meh. It wasn't a good book.

Overall: Frustrating to say the least. Some good moments but the MC and the story fell flat for me. I don't recommend it at all.

Does anyone have a recommendation of a zombie book that you loved?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Trilogy: The Hunger Games #1. Scholastic Inc (Sept. 2008) Own
Winning Means Fame and Fortune. 
Losing Means Certain Death.
The Hunger Games Have Begun....
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


Katniss Everdeen takes her first steps into becoming a symbol of hope in one of the most well known trilogies around. Katniss lives in district 12 where she has to hunt for her and her families' food to survive. The Capitol makes it so that she is forced to do this. She is unable to imagine the kind of surplus of food and wealth the Capitol has taken from the districts who supply them with those luxuries. But she's just about to find out. After her sister is unfairly cast to be a contender in the Hunger Games where kids fight to the death she takes her place in the Games and unwittingly becomes a symbol of hope. She also starts things she never intended to - with matters of the heart and the politics of the Games. 

I love this book. I love this trilogy. It completely and totally drew me into the world where there is this greedy and powerful government who makes sure that you don't over step your bounds or get ahead in life. It made me feel for Katniss's situation and made me cry my eyes out at the injustice of it all. It's an unbelievably wonderful book that has everything a reader could ever want. If you haven't read it you are missing out on some great storytelling that has action, romance, heart racing moments, wonderful writing, the works! I will always read and love The Hunger Games. Always.

For those of you who have read The Hunger Games:

When I watched the Catching Fire trailer and saw Katniss twirl around and actually become the Mockingjay this internal need to read her story again kept coming back to me and wouldn't let me go until I read her story. I realized before I read the trilogy again that I've never written a review on any of the books. The books came out way before I started the blog so it makes sense. But how could I not write about this trilogy and all the feelings I have for it?

Reading this trilogy for the third time I could see the difference between the first time I read it and now. First of all I know what happens but the sad moments still rip me to shreds inside. I had to constantly cover myself or fake a yawn so no one would see me crying. I also noticed that the way I felt about Katniss then and Katniss now are completely different. I thought that Katniss was way too mean to Peeta the first time around. She cuts him up when she tackles him after the interview when he professes his love for her, she becomes irritated with him when his walking is too noisy for her, and she strings him along throughout the Games. But, really she is just a tough girl who doesn't want to die on national television with her mother and sister watching and who does care about Peeta but she hasn't known him until now so it's really unfair to say what she really feels for Peeta or Gale. It was a bit crappy of Katniss and Haymitch not to say anything to Peeta but they didn't do it to hurt him. The Hunger Games is about survival. You both were able to survive because of your skills and the manipulation of the audience.

Speaking of audience - I've never really thought about this as something that could really happen. The movie kind of brings it to reality. There are actual people playing our favorite characters. They are flesh and bone, not fictional characters running around in my head. I started thinking about this while reading this book. This trilogy if you think about it is the most real dystopian future. This could actually happen where you are less likely to get stuck in a maze or be living in a spaceship. I can totally see people being entertained by kids fighting to the death and that's terrifying. There's a very real message to this story. Not only that our world is way too violent and never being satisfied with how much you have (the Capitol citizens) can ruin our way of living but that if we let it the world could very well become something like what it is in The Hunger Games. 

Question: Do you believe that something like The Hunger Games world could ever exist?

Overall: A must read! One of the best dystopians I have ever read.

If you like The Hunger Games trilogy you might like Collins' other series for MG: Underland Chronicles which I have two of that have been lying around for years and I must get to reading them.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Post: 8/25/13

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received and share news about what's coming up for the next week ahead.
This Week:

I decided to do this because I rather much have a weekly wrap up than a start up wrap up... If that makes any sense. I mostly did It's Monday! about news anyways and other things so why not? 

Today is my brother's birthday party. Tomorrow he turns 21 and not only that but a new semester starts. With a new semester comes new responsibility's (yes, I am thinking of Spider man right now). So don't be shocked if I only do a couple of posts a week. School comes first. I've been absent a lot recently due to personal things but everything seems to be on the right track now. Thanks for everyone being so kind to welcome me back and continue reading my blog reviews. I love blogging and will continue as long as it's fun and right now I'm having tons of it (:

A new baby has arrived in the family. He's not directly related to us but who cares! It's a baby and he's adorable.  


Last Week on the Blog:

I reviewed Holes by Louis Sachar and compared it some to the movie. I ask the question: Which do you love more the book or the movie? Miracle by Elizabeth Scott was another review of mine. I stayed up all night reading and crying my eyes out. You should definitely check that book out. I found out and promptly watched and posted the trailer for The Book Thief movie which doesn't look that bad. Max does look a bit young though... All I could really think about was Rudy.... I reviewed The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. I still can't wrap my feelings around this book. At least I was able to move on to another book - Bad Taste in Boys which unfortunately I'm struggling with.

Around the Blogosphere (a.k.a. my to-read list is now larger):

Some books I added to my to-read list that I can't wait to get my hands on: The Winner's Curse, Where the Stars Still Shine, The Vanishing Act (thanks to Cleo), Until It Hurts to Stop (thanks to Born Bookish), and To All the Boys I've Loved Before (thanks to Cranium over Converse).

Some posts I enjoyed: Dancing Bear (Book for Kids), The Cost of Awesomeness (The Sirenic Codex), ARC: Eat Brains, Love by Jeff Hart (also on to-read list thanks to (The Bawdy Book Blog), and Almost Perfect But Not Quite (Forever Literary).

I finally saw the Vampire Academy trailer which I have mixed feelings about. I love the first couple of books I've read but I don't want to feel like I made a mistake reading a vampire book like I did when I watched Twilight. I also found out on the same post that Ransom Riggs and Tahereh Mafi are engaged. And I'm at first what!? And then I find this and I'm even more of a question mark. How did I not know that these two authors were even dating? Well, congrats to them! Their babies are going to be genius writers I'm sure.


Tweets:

  • What Would a World Without Libraries Look Like? Kids Have Their Say. 
  • A Future Worth Funding (all about how Miami-Dade is going to lose 22 of 49 branches if no one does anything!) 
  • How to Support Miami-Dade Public Library (Important!!! Please Help)
  • Went a little crazy loving on The Spectacular Now movie but if John Green and Stephen Chbosky like it who are we to say we don't? 



Plans for Next Week:

Thinking of starting Gameboard of the Gods. Also, I recently read for the third time the Hunger Games Trilogy and I realized I've never reviewed a single one so that may be happening. I'm reading Bad Taste in Boys right now and if I finish it there will be a review. I also have a stack of books from the library that I need to read. I'm going to try to read them all this month. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Standalone. Alfred A. Knopf (October 2008) Own
So, my beautiful fat girlfriend, Cassidy, is threatening to kick me to the curb again, my best friend suddenly wants to put the brakes on our lives of fabulous fun, my mom and big sister are plotting a future in which I turn into an atomic vampire, and my dad, well, my dad is a big fat question mark that I'm not sure I want the answer to.

Some people would let a senior year like this get them down. Not me. I'm Sutter Keel, master of the party. I'm your man when it comes to cranking the wild times. But, don't mistake a midnight philosopher like me for nothing more than a shallow party boy. Just ask Aimee, the new girl in my life. She saw the depth in the Sutterman from that first moment when she found me passed out on the front lawn. Okay, so she's a social disaster, but that's where I come in. Isn't it my duty to show her a splendiforous time, and then let her go forth and prosper?                                                                                    Yes, life is weird, but I embrace the weird. Let everyone else go marching off into their great shining futures if they want. Me, I've always been more than content to tip my whisky bottle and take a ride straight into the heart of the spectacular now.

I can't even begin to put in words this book. It threw me for a loop. I don't even know the right words to respond with to what I've just been through. I know I say it time and time again but this book was not what I expected. I've been obsessing over this book's movie trailer because it looks like simply a romantic movie with it's up and downs. But, it's not reality. I think a lot of this book is about that. What really happens in the world. 

This wasn't a love story at all. The trailer made me think that and want it so much that it took me so long to realize this book isn't what I bargained for. Now that I've calmed slightly and I mean slightly down I realize that this book may have not been what I bargained for but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. I still have mixed emotions and can't seem to process this story but maybe I will tomorrow or in a week or in I don't know how long. I'm just this big one confused jumbled mess that doesn't know what to do. 

A lot of people talk about how it was weird getting into the mind of an eighteen year old boy and I guess it is weird. I just never thought of it that way because I felt I could find him in my high school. I don't think anyone was as extreme as him but I can just imagine him as an everyday normal kid too. Even Aimee (well of course Aimee) who was not at all who I expected - I could imagine her in my class. I actually imagined her as me. I could see myself be swayed by a guy like this who's actually a good guy with good intentions but he's so... I could see me in her, the nerdy-glasses-wearing-social-awkward girl that no one notices. It was heartbreaking to feel that for her. 

For those who read The Spectacular Now:

Can we please talk about this ending? If anyone's read this book message me on Goodreads or something because I need some closure here. I have this sense of dread after reading it. Maybe that's the point? I heard the movie has an ending. I've got to watch it before I go crazy!

Overall: I was expecting more romance than the actual reality of what life can hold for you and how you see yourself in that world. Sutter was the main subject and I like that about the book. It was more intense than I expected too. This is a book that you either love it or has you searching for answers. 

This book like I mentioned has a movie that just came out. The trailer is awesome. Check it out and fall in love:



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

Standalone. Simon Pulse (June 2012) Library
I sat there and wondered again why I'd lived. Why I didn't even feel like I was here.
Megan is a miracle. At least, that's what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. The truth is, she doesn't feel like a miracle.
In fact, she doesn't feel anything at all.
Then memories from the crash start coming back. Scared and alone, Megan doesn't know whom to turn to. Her entire community seem unable-or maybe unwilling-to see her as anything but Miracle Megan, except maybe Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own. 
All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone's expectations, the worse she feels. This time she may be falling too fast to be saved....


Ever since Megan came back alive from the crash of flight 619 no one really sees her as Megan anymore. She's the miracle girl. The girl who lived when everyone else died. She's the girl everyone stares at, smiles at without really looking at her. Because if they did look closely enough they would see her slowly retreat in herself. They would see that she is slowly becoming nothing more than a hollow shell that is desperate for someone to notice that something is wrong with her. But her parents pretend, her friends pretend, the whole community pretends because if she isn't the miracle girl what is she? The broken girl? The lost girl? The girl who doesn't care or feel anything at all?

Megan lied to the world and herself when she said she remembered the crash. She felt like she had to do that to get home and get back to normal - to get away from her parents nervous, anxious smiles. But, it wasn't the truth. The truth of the matter is that she remembers nothing from the crash. But, over time flashes of memories come back to her and haunt her. The sky is ablaze with fire when she least expects it. The only people who really notice are her brother who now hates her because she gets all the attention, Margaret an old lady who works at the church, and the beautiful boy next door who has his own tragedy to deal with. Megan must find her way through that night when the sky was on fire because if she doesn't it might be the only thing that defines her.

If you plan to read this book I must warn you that you will CRY. YOUR. EYES. OUT. For someone like me who cries whenever something goes wrong in the characters she reads life this was the ultimate sob fest. It was intense, somewhat disturbing, and really powerful. This book struck a chord with me. I stayed up all night reading it, my mind refusing to stop until I got to the very end. Then and only then I could rest. It had me on edge and made me feel so much of what Megan was feeling - the feeling of being alone and no one noticing her very real crash of her own.

There was a lot of pretending in this book. Her parents especially would always pretend nothing was wrong. That everything is fine. Of course it was the complete opposite of that but I somehow understand where they were coming from. I've seen adults and I have even tried to pretend things away. But, by doing that they were only making everything worse. When things really hit the fan it was insane. I give a lot of blame to her parents and a lot of adults around her. It's just really sad the way she was feeling and the way no one got that she needed help.

Margaret and Joe were some of the only ones who noticed her. Margaret is this grandmotherly type who's seen some battles of her own and Joe is the next door neighbor that all the girls swoon at. Now before you roll your eyes he wasn't presented in that bad of a way. He was actually very likable. I thought after reading the summary that he was going to be my big problem with the book but no. The author really did well writing a very intense and hopeful book. The whole story was completely amazing and I'm happy to have read it. It's one of those books that stays with you for a long time.

Overall: Although this book kind of reinforced my fear of flying it was absolutely amazing and worth reading. A beautiful story.

This is the third book I've read by Elizabeth Scott and won't be my last. Here's another I plan to read that you might like - The Unwritten Rule.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Book Thief Trailer


Oh no guys I'm crying already... It actually looks like a book to movie worth watching too. I need to prepare. It's coming out November 15th!

Holes by Louis Sachar


Standalone. Yearling Books (May 2000) Own
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day, digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.                                                                                     It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment - and redemption.
       

Stanley Yelnats' bad luck can be traced all the way back to his great-great grandfather who foolishly fell in love at the tender age of fifteen. Now I'm not saying it's wrong to fall in love at fifteen or even that it's a foolish idea at all. But, it was foolish for Elya Yelnats to fall in love with this one particular dimwitted girl who wouldn't know what love was if it smacked her on the head. Elya's love for her was truly sincere that's for sure but unfortunately it didn't work out so well... He struck a deal with Madame Zeroni to help him marry his love but he didn't keep his end of the deal. As a result he and his family have been destined to be cursed always and forever. 

What we may not realize in this world is that perseverance and hard work may help you get places but it's luck that gives you that extra burst that can make you succeed in life. The Yelnats are fresh out of luck which is why the great-great grandson of Elya Yelnats was accused of a crime he did not commit and sent to Camp Green Lake - a hot tempered land that hasn't had rain in over a hundred years. There Stanley meets a mishmash cast of characters he will be digging holes along side of to build character: X-Ray, the leader; Armit, who's name speaks for himself; Magnet, who's hands can't keep away from things that aren't his; Zigzag, the oddest kid out of the bunch; Squid, who taunts Stanley about writing back home; and Zero, the boy that everyone looks down at and who never speaks a word. At Camp Green Lake Stanley will make decisions that will forever change the course of his life and his family's as well. Will he choose to stand for what he believes in or remain hidden in the background?

I love this book. I believe every child (and adult!) should read it. It's a book about hope, strength of character to do the right thing, and knowing that if you are an honest and good person even if things don't always go your way everything can turn around for the better. This book is teeming with originality and personality. It will always  provide me with a kid's sense of wonder and happiness. It's a must read!

For those of you who have read the book and seen the movie:

I've watched the movie version of this book for years and have loved it for years. I've been kind of wary of reading the book for a while now because I knew that Stanley was larger in the book and that was hard for me to picture instead of the actor in the movie. I still couldn't picture him that well in the book but it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book. It actually makes sense for Stanley to build muscle and lose weight in the story because it is reminiscent of the story of his great-great grandfather. He builds his strength to do what he needs to do.

I couldn't help comparing the book to the movie while I was reading the story. I really enjoyed that the book talked about what happened to Elya after he came to America. There's a little scene that's really sweet and reminds you that although all these generations of Yelnats have had bad luck they all have fallen deeply in love with a good person. They all also have tremendous amounts of hope and perseverance. They've kind of benefited from this curse in a way. They all ended up being good people and that's the most important thing.

There are a little changes here and there. Just different realizations at different moments. I don't think there is a Squid in the movie. There are moments I prefer from the movie and others from the book. I love when in the movie Stanley starts getting this happy feeling and he says that he's feeling lucky. It doesn't sound like a big deal but for those of you that have seen the movie might think the same way. It's a turning point for Stanley. I also noticed throughout the book that some scenes from the movie were exactly like the book. The same things were said. I loved catching those words from the movie I love so much reading the book. The song difference was really interesting as well. I didn't expect that but I did like the change up.

Question: Which do you love more the book or the movie?

Overall: I loved this book. It had some things in it that made the story that I thought I knew so well from the movie different and exciting. I couldn't say I enjoyed it more than the movie but it had its moments. Holes is a great children's book that should be on kids shelves everywhere!

I just found out that there is a sequel to Holes. If you want to know more about Small Steps you can head on to Goodreads.