11.30.2009

Review: Sleepless

Book Description:

SOMEONE ELSE WILL
DIE SOON
she tells herself.

SOMEONE ELSE WILL DIE
AND I WILL BE RESPONSIBLE.

A few days after the first time you
walk in your sleep, you kill someone.
That's how the end begins.

Emma Montgomery has been having gruesome nightmares. Even worse, when she wakes up, she isn't where she was when she fell asleep. And she's not the only one. One by one the students of Saint Opportuna High start having nightmares, and sleepwalking. And the next morning one of their classmates turns up dead.

Something is making them kill in their sleep. Emma and her friends need to band together, to keep themselves awake until they can figure out what's behind the murders--before anyone else dies.

Thomas Fahy, author of The Unspoken, which Pubishers Weekly called, "a page-turner that just might keep readers up at night," again brings readers a nail-bitingly horrifying novel.

My Opinion:

Sleepless reads like a horror movie converted into a fast-paced novel. Dark, mysterious, and quite grisly in many places, this novel manages to simultaneously entertain and horrify. Events unfold fairly quickly: for some reason, a group of students are murdering others while asleep. And of course, since murder is a very bad thing, they've got to do everything they can to stop their bodies from engaging in homicide while they're unconscious. This includes unearthing the reason behind their behavior as well as massive amounts of sleep deprivation--hence the title.

Sleepless is written in third-person present tense, which may prove jarring to many readers at first. When I first started the novel, the prose came off as disjointed and self-aware, probably due to the present tense. Don't get me wrong--I LOVE present tense in a book*. In Sleepless though, it took some time to get used to--I'd say the first sixty pages or so, I felt like something was a bit off. But once I'd settled into the book, I couldn't stop reading.

I think it's partly because I was in shock. I almost never watch horror movies, and the extent of my "scary" reading only reaches to a tattered copy of Poe's short stories*. So I've never read anything quite like Sleepless: graphic, bloody, horrifying, and chilling. Many of the characters wake up to find that their vivid dreams of killing somebody--which Fahy does not shy away from describing in full detail--have come true.

Fahy certainly gets points for coming up with such a chilling premise--after all, what's freakier than killing a classmate or friend while you're asleep? It's the very concept of innocent murder and loss of control that proves to be so disturbing. The premise of this book was definitely the best part--but on the flip side, it didn't allow for much depth in terms of character development or themes. I didn't really connect with any of the characters, or feel that much sympathy for their plight. The bottom line is that Sleepless is pretty much action, action, action, all the way through. Oh, and lots of dead bodies. If you're looking for a gripping read, Sleepless certainly fulfills these requirements.

Despite this, I have a big beef with the ending. For some reason, Sleepless didn't hold my interest as much towards the last fifty pages or so, once the book dived headfirst into a voodoo-Katrina/New Orleans-revelation. The climax was in the same vein as the rest of this book: unashamedly violent and brutal. It's the resolution that is lacking since it literally felt as if the printers had made a mistake and not included the last ten pages of denouement.

After reading Sleepless, I was left unsatisfied, if not a bit shell-shocked. I think the cover is absolutely amazing--so eery and shiversome. I'll be honest, it's what made me pick up this book.

I'd be perfect if I could close with: Sleepless left me sleepless, afraid that I'd scuttle around town mass murdering innocents if I so much as closed my eyes. But unfortunately, it wouldn't be truthful--I actually dreamt of chocolate bunnies and rainbows after I'd finished.

I give it a 7.25 ***

*especially first person present: Hunger Games and Cracked Up to Be are some extraordinarily well-written examples offthe top of my head. The best third-person present I've read is Wake.
**he writes pretty disturbing stuff, but it isn't exactly scary. If you want proof that drugs totally mess up your mind, read some of Poe's stories.
*** I knowknowknow, it's bad that I've resorted to .25s now. I';m not sure this quite deserves a 7.5 though.

11.28.2009

In My Mailbox [7]

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

So, as a continuation of the plundering of the library...






1. Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia: AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING premise. China (and all of Asia) is just so rich with legends and beautiful history, and I really think there needs to be more YA books that tap into that. My mom is even more excited to read this then me*. And I hope this will help me with connecting with my Chinese heritage through reading. Sort of. Hopefully. The point is, I really would like to read more books with an Asian main character or Asian legends.

2. Beastly: modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and if I'm correct, I believe there is a movie in the works. I absolutely LOVE Beauty and the Beast, so looking forward to reading this one.

3. Need: There is something about this cover--the gold lips, perhaps?--that bade me to pick it up. I knowknowknow that I probably shouldn't be reading paranormal romances after my recent spaz attack from reading what I shall not-so-politely refer to as Twilight vomit**, but Need has MAINE AS A SETTING! If at any point there are descriptions of fall leaves, this will well be worth reading. And hopefully, this will be the best paranormal romance I've read.

4. Betraying Season: The sequel to a book I adored, Bewitching Season***. So I am beyond excited to get started on this one. Just love the time period of Regency England so much :)

5. The Lost Conspiracy: I loved Fly by Night, another book by Frances Hardinge, more than I can describe****. When I saw this I almost had a heart attack*****, since I hadn't known that there was a new book coming out by her.

*I suspect she's secreted it away from me because I can't find it at the moment. And no, this is NOT an excuse for my disorganized state of being
**Youknowwhatbookyouare
*** which I won a signed copy of!!!!
**** (*hint* upcomingFridayFavorite *hint*)
***** in a good-ish way, if that is even possible.


What's in your mailbox this week?

11.26.2009

100 Followers, Awards, and Happy Thanksgiving!

The mind boggles, it really does.

I can't believe I'm up to a 100* followers already. WOOOOOT! *does happy dance*

Hooray for you lovely followers who..um...follow my blog. And especially to everyone who comments--comments are the best part of blogging. In October, I started really getting into the YA blogosphere--posting frequently and discovering new blogs, and I'm so glad that I did. All the YA book bloggers are so nice and welcoming--it's a great community. And above all, it's wonderful to connect with people who have the same ravenous, obsessive love of books. So thank you everyone!

It's only fair that I hold a 100 followers contest in celebration. It should be coming this way in a little bit, once I decide what's going to be up for grab.**

Annnnnnnnnnd, to cement this happy day, I also have gotten two awards in the last week or so. Here it goes:

One Lovely Blog Award from I Want to Read That. Thank you so much!

Here are the rules: Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

15 newly discovered blogs coming right up:

1. Steph at Steph the Bookworm
2. Natalie at Mindful Musings
3. Lea at YA Book Queen
4. Zoealea at Zoe's Book Reviews
5. Catt at The Dreamer Reader
6. Katie at Sophistikatied Reviews
7. Staysi at Lost in Ink
8. Laina at Laina Has Too Much Spare Time
9. Jo-Jo at Jo-Jo loves to read!!!
10. Jordan atInside the Mind
11. Lizzy at Cornucopia of Reviews
12. Star Girl Reads at Books make great lovers!
13. Lisa at Book Blab
14. Kim at And Anything Bookish
15. WillowRaven at Red House Books


Honest Scrap Award from Steph the Bookworm. Many thanks :)

List ten honest things about yourself and then pass this onto ten other bloggers.

10 honest things:

1. There is nothing that I pine for more than beautiful fall leaves and torrents of rain.

2. I am a horror when I first wake up in the morning. Totally and completely zombified. I crash my way down the stairs and shuffle around dazedly. I can't even open my eyes at first, and what little I can say comes out as a sort of incoherent bear-growl. I tend to hit things in the morning as well--parents and siblings beware! Coffee is my salvation. Otherwise, it takes me about four hours to wake up on my own naturally.

4. Aside from the font-thing, I'm the most disorganized, messy person you'll ever meet. You should be glad you don't have to see my room. It's not pretty. And I lose everything, probably because of this. Also, I'm an extremely forgetful person. Scary forgetful.****

5. I procrastinate on everything. Let's talk about this later, hmm?

6. I'm deathly afraid of bugs and spiders. If I see one, I go all jelloid inside and I have to make someone else kill it for me.

7. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. And I really don't know what to say when people ask me where I'm applying for college or what major I want or what job I want or any of that stuff. I just don't know.

8. Unless you count my alternate life's ambition, in which I buy a crumbling castle, relocate to Europe and own a gigantic library, of course. *****

9. I want nothing more than to travel. Europe especially--Britain and Ireland and France and Germany and Italy and Greece and Denmark and Spain and EVERYWHERE.

10. I have the worst sweet tooth imaginable. Chocolate? Ice cream? Cookies? Cake? Pastries? Candy?
Just don't leave alone with a platterful of dessert in front of me. Just don't.

10 amazing bloggers: (I did this off of top commentators. Because you guys definitely deserve mega-sized chocolate trophies, but I figured this would be nice too :))

1. Jessica at A BookLover's Diary
2. Kirthi at Pages
3. Allison at Read Into This!
4. Emilia at Punk Writer Kid
5. Stormi at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!
6. Steph at Steph the Bookworm (I know you're the one who gave me the award, but you deserve it again, haha :)
7. Sheila at One Persons Journey Through A World of Books
8. Nina at Happy Endings
9. Casey at A Passion for Books
10. Sandy at Pirate Penguin's Reads


And lastly, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Do you feel as stuffed as I do?******




* What a shiny, lovely number. 100 just seems special :p
**Psst you'll definitely want to stick around for it :)
***Yes, I am aware that I may sound like a babbling maniac right now. But it's important! Still mad that one of the titles wasn't bolded last time.
What? I'm not that weird. Okay. It's jusssstt..... I'll stop now.
**** Realllllllly bad memory. Really.
*****Chocolate books? No, that would be wrong...but oh so delicious.
Imagine eating a page after you read it. Mmm.
******As in, more stuffed than a turkey. I will have to buy a new wardrobe with several size bigger in pants. Hahaha. Mmm mashed potatoes mmmmmm.

11.25.2009

Waiting on Wednesday [7]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: Magic Under Glass by Jackyln Dolamore

***
Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.

***

This book sounds pretty amazing. I love that there is a wide variety of magic and creatures in this short blurb alone--the mention of automatons, ghosts, and sorcerers caught my attention immediately. Magic Under Glass sounds like it'd be a great read, and I can't wait to see in bookstores. Actually, this would make a good Christmas present! :)

*puts on wish list*

Release Date: December 22, 2009

11.22.2009

Review: Girl in the Arena

Book Description:

It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena.

Lyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him... For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines’ debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence—a modern world that’s disturbingly easy to imagine.

My Opinion:

This book was not at all what I expected. I was ready for a delightfully violent, action-packed novel. What I got was nearly the complete opposite--Girl in the Arena deals more with the moral implications of neo-gladiators than the actual action of it, and is consequently slow-paced.

Lyn is the daughter of seven gladiators. In her alternative America, gladiators are famous athletes, with millions of fans across the country--much like football players are to our society. The GSA (Gladiator Sports Association) is cult-like in nature--Lyn has always felt apart from all other people her age, and the Gladiator Bylaws have governed her life. The gladiator way of life proves stifling to Lyn, who'd rather be a pacifist and live normally. But when her stepfather Tommy is killed in the arena, everything changes. The GSA has some nasty tricks up their sleeve, and they're making it difficult for Lyn to live the life she wants to--foreclosing on her mother's possessions and house, and effectively blackmailing Lyn. And of course, there's the problem of having to marry the man who killed her father.

I wish to disillusion any of you out there who think this is a book about Lyn fighting in the arena. It's not--in fact, that part doesn't come until the very end of the book, and what actually happens is sadly short-lived. This book is really about Lyn dealing with the implications of a gladiator life she can't escape.

Lyn's parallel world was intriguing, but it was actually very similar to our own--with the exception of the gladiators and some unbelievable hologram technology. I actually have a big problem with the holograms in this story--in no way does Haines ever explain how in a world nearly identical to our own can possess technology so out of reach in ours. I felt that the holograms were a convenient crutch to lean on--especially as the story progressed and a key plot point was revealed. And although there was the hint of a love triangle, nothing of note ever happened in that department.

And the dialogue seriously annoyed me. Instead of the trusty, good old quotation marks, Haines saw fit to employ dashes. Which I understand is a stylistic choice, but I'd have enjoyed this book much more if the dialogue hadn't been structured so strangely. I mean, I was annoyed when James Joyce used dashes, so I'm even more frustrated by it in Girl in the Arena. I felt like the dialogue really pulled the story down, to the point where I was literally trying to imagine the dashes as quotation marks instead of paying attention to the story. I mostly skimmed through the dialogue without getting a real sense of the conversation unfolding.

In addition, the ending was very anticlimactic and rushed. I was severely disappointed with it, and I think it reflected the whole essence of the book-- action-less when it could be action-ful.

But all in all, Girl in the Arena was an enjoyable read. Ultimately, it was a intriguing social commentary on a possible world where professional sports and reality TV have been taken too far. I did like Lyn as a heroine--which is saying something because lately I've been disliking female main characters in young adult fiction more than I have been liking them. Her motivations and most of her actions were admirable--and her defiance against having anyone control her had me rooting for her. Lyn was the best aspect of this book since she was a very strong protagonist. And I adore the cover, even if it is sorely inaccurate.

I give it a 7/10

11.21.2009

In My Mailbox [6]

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

So, I finally cleared my fines at the library today. Doing so practically wiped out my savings, but I luuuuuuuurve my library. I even *gasp* composed a poem while I was browsing the library:
Oh, library! How I love thee.
Your books are free,
a gorgeous sight to see.

How long you've been separated from me!
*followers stampede their way to the exit*
WAIT, COME BACK! You poor followers, what I put you through sometimes...no more ghastly poetry, I promise :p

Anways, I checked out 33 books. Very shiny books. Way too many for an IMM post, so I'll pick the top five I'm looking forward to reading.

"Hot picks"/ New releases--Actually, I was really surprised that my library had any new releases, since my library is pretty sucky normally. I take that back though. My library is now lovely, since they had these books:







The books I've been meaning to read FOREVER:





1. Sleepless : Such an striking cover! And the premise of students "killing in their sleep" gives me shivers.

2. Give Up the Ghost: I've been seeing this in the bookstore and pining over it. I've been wanting a good ghost novel for a while, and I'm hoping this will be it.

3. Prophecy of the Sisters: Love this cover so much, and the "dark prophecy"sounds so intriguing!

4. Paper Towns: I loved Looking for Alaska, and I've heard that Paper Towns is even better. So I can't wait to crack open this one!

5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth: Dystopian and absolutely fantastic, if the reviews all over the YA blogosphere are anything to go by. I want to read this so badly that I was actually going to order it off Amazon this week, but the library has saved me the trouble (and the money!). Paying my fines is sort of balancing out.

I am officially a library book glutton now. Time to go gorge myself on my book feast :)

11.20.2009

Review: Evermore


Book Description:
Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch. Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste…

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

My Opinion:

I've been seeing Evermore around for a couple of months and been meaning to read it for ages. So when I saw that shiny, lovely $5.99 price sticker, I was powerless to resist. I was immediately intrigued by the mention of Ever's pyschic powers, and the aura color chart in the front of the book sealed the deal.

You know that tingly feeling you get when you buy a book and you're pretty sure it's going to be amazing? Well, I had it.

The first few pages were promising--the premise of Ever dealing with the death of her family and the advent of new powers certainly has potential. Unfortunately, that's where the interesting part ends. What follows is little better than a regurgitated retelling of Twlight, minus the sparkling.

Bella Ever moves to a new town, doesn't quite fit in, and has a somewhat awkward relationship with her dad her aunt. In her biology English class, she meets Edward Damen, who is she is forced to sit next to and who wants to eat her like a chocolate chip cookie. He is the oh-so-mysterious brooding boy that every single girl in the school immediately falls in love with after one glimpse, because he is "so gorgeous and sexy and hot and smoldering." Damen is definitely Ever's soulmate, because he makes her feel like she's touching a cold perfect marble statue warm and electric inside, and they have nothing in common. In short, they're a match made in heaven.

What can I say about Damen? The Edward-wannabe, the abusive bad boy, the subject of this entire book? I feel like I know every inch of what he looks like, but nothing about him. But who cares about character development, plot, or any of that stuff in a novel? Of course, the only thing a good young adult book needs is an idiotic, spineless female main character and a hot, significantly older and abusive love interest. Add in some obnoxious minor characters and a lackluster storyline, and we'll just watch the trainwreck unfold from there.

As a narrator, Ever started off as tolerable, progressed to brainless, and by the 200th page, was so annoying and loathsome that I couldn't take it anymore.

This, in essence, is Ever:

DAMEN IS SOOO AMAZING. I mean, what can you not like about this guy who is so hot that he is a model and has pictures on himself on the internet modeling and has a cool car (but still wears motorcycle boots) and and sunglasses and dark shiny hair and white teeth and Cupid's lips and OMG OMG OMG I can't stop staring at him and I can't even speak in his presence and I think he likes me but he's being a real jerk but whatever I still want to go out with him because he is SOOO HOT!!!!! And everything is ALL my fault.

Delightful sort of person, isn't she?

When Edward Damen leaves Bella Ever for a short period of time, Bellver can't deal. Bellver turns to alcohol as a way to ease the pain of separation. Because real life certainly isn't worth living if your boyfriend breaks up with you. You should get suspended from school, mope around, and drink vodka. Or jump of a cliff--either one is an acceptable way of coping.

I don't know, I just don't. Evermore's similarities to Twilight are so striking that I would expect lawsuits, not New York Bestselling status. But perhaps I've been reading too much paranormal romance lately with the same tired premise. I enjoyed reading Shiver, but the more I think about these sorts of books, the less tolerance I have. They're almost like guilty reads--when I'm reading, I get sucked into the story, which I suppose is a good thing. Once I stop reading and take a break, and once I really reflect on the components of these kinds of novels and their inherent message, I can't understand why I even enjoy reading any of these books. Evermore is the book that finally made me snap--and perhaps I am being unfair by taking out my dissatisfaction with the girl falls in love with [insert paranormal creature] trend with this review.

I think I'll stop now, before this gets out of hand. I know a lot of you really enjoyed this book, and I don't want to a take a negative review too far. I really could say much more on this matter, but I won't.

And I won't rate it either.

I'll end on a positive note; I did like the cover. I love the idea of seeing auras for people's emotions, I mean, just LOVE. And the writing is very accessible. If you're a twi-hard, you'll probably love Evermore--but this book just wasn't right for me.

11.17.2009

Waiting on Wednesday [6]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

***

Her mother was a scandalous witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and her Step-Mama is determined to sell her oldest sister into a positively Gothic marriage to pay it off--so what can twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson do but take matters directly into her own hands? If only her older sisters hadn’t thwarted her plan to run away to London dressed as a boy and earn a fortune! When Kat makes a midnight foray into her mother’s cabinet of secrets, though, she finds out something she never expected. Her mother wasn’t just a witch, she was a Guardian, a member of a secret Order with staggering magical powers--and Kat is her heir.


Of course, there’s no chance of Kat choosing to join the Order that forbade her parents’ marriage...but Mama’s magical mirror doesn’t seem to understand that. It keeps following her wherever she goes, even when the family travels to Grantham Abbey to meet the sinister Sir Neville, her oldest sister’s chosen fiancĂ©. And what with Sir Neville showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s untapped powers, her mother’s old tutor insisting that she take up her mother’s position as a Guardian, and her sister Angeline refusing to listen to her about anything, *as usual*...well, it’s a good thing Kat kept her boy’s clothing, because she may well have to use it--especially if the rumors of a highwayman are true.

***
As of now, this is one of the top fantasy books that I'm looking forward to in 2010. A Most Improper Magick seems like it'd be right up my alley--the premise is exactly something I'd LOVE to read about. The time period, Regency England, is just so interesting. Add in some unexplored magical powers and some adventure, and A Most Improper Magick promises to equal a lovely sort of fantasy book--light and fun and inventive.

You can read the first chapter here. I did, and I'm hooked--love the voice so much. I can't wait until this one is released. Definitely a middle grade read to pine after!

Release Date: April 20, 2010

11.15.2009

review: cracked up to be


Book Description:

What's the worst thing you've ever done?

When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

My Opinion:

Cracked Up to Be is the best contemporary book I've ever read. Truly. In fact, this book makes me very, very ashamed and regretful that I don't read more contemporary books.* Cracked Up to Be is just that good. If anything is going to get me to read contemporary, this is it.

Parker is perhaps one of the most memorable, wonderful narrators I've ever encountered. Readers are smacked over the head by her unforgettable voice, thoughts, and actions. Branded "manipulative" by the counselors and administrators who try to help her, Parker is witty, sarcastic, and cynical. She puts on a tough front and definitely tries her best to shock people. And I gotta admit, I can't help but admire her nerve. Parker makes the most biting and snarky comments, but what can I say? I love snark in a main character.

But I'm pretty sure I'm botching this explanation. So let's allow the quotes to speak for themselves:
pg 4:
"Grey looks like abird, a dead-eyed sparrow, and if I had her job, I'd want to kill myself. It's not like well-adjusted people ever come into the guidance office. You get either the crazy underachievers or the crazy overachievers and both come with their own depressing set of problems. I don't know. I'd just want to kill myself if I was her, that's all."

pg 77:
"Chris and Becky are still furious with me. They won't look at or speak to me, and I won't lie, I feel pretty accomplished about it. Somebody give me a gold star."
See? Amazing. Parker is one of my all-time favorite narrators. It's just that irrepressible voice!

Before this story starts, Parker was an obsessive perfectionist. Now, her popular ex-boyfriend Chris, her arch-enemy Becky, her parents, and her teachers are all bewildered by her self-destructive behavior. They're convinced she needs saving. But Parker wants nothing but to alienate herself further, and she'll go to any length to do so--whether it's being rude to the nice new kid who likes her, manipulating the people closest to her, or convincing her parents to buy a dog that's supposed to replace her. Readers will get hints, but not the full reason behind her behavior until the end; there is a flashback interweaved into the story, related bit by bit, that will ultimately explain why Parker is acting the way she does.

The dialogue is also one of my favorite parts of this book--it's just so realistic and rings true to Parker and the other people she interacts with. Courtney Summers is a genius when it comes to dialogue. Everything is just so sharp and sparse, but ultimately perfect.

All in all, this book was just flat-out, squeal-worthy fantastic. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I was drawn into Parker's story. I had to know what had caused this downward spiral in her life. I had to know what Parker would say or do next, and trust me, she's pretty unpredictable. Actually, Cracked Up to Be is one of the best written books I've ever read --delightfully straightforward, riveting prose abounds, with equally amazing dialogue and characterization. Summers perfectly renders one girl's journey as she struggles to finally face what she's done and come to terms with it. Cracked Up to Be is totally and utterly unapologetic in it's stark portrayal of Parker's descent into darkness, it's grittiness, and it's jump-off-the-page wit. But most of all, this book is brilliant and powerful in both writing and message.

I guarantee this will be one of the best books you've ever read. If not the best.

READ THIS NOW!!!

I give it a 9.5/10

Special thanks to Emilia and Jessica for recommending me this awesome book :)



*I swear I'm reforming myself. I pinky promise. I've been reading lots of contemporary lately!

11.14.2009

In My Mailbox [5]

This is a weekly meme hosted by Story Siren.

RIBed:

Bought:


Pilfered from sister's bookshelf:

1. Girl in the Arena. Decided to read this book because the hint of gladiators hooked me in. I was hoping for something like the Hunger Games.

2. Evermore. This was $5.99 in Costco. Which to me is simply irresistible. And I really like the sound of Ever's psychic powers!

3. A Certain Slant of Light. I've been dying to read this book for some time. And I could not believe it when I saw this on my sister's bookshelf. I took it without asking borrowed it. :)

11.13.2009

Friday Favorites [5]: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray


Friday Favorites is a weekly event where I review books that I love--my absolute favorite books that you MUST read if you haven't already. MUSTMUSTMUST.

This week's pick is The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding.


Book Description:

Thaniel, just seventeen, is a wych-hunter. Together, he and Cathaline--his friend and mentor--track down the fearful creatures that lurk in the Old Quarter of London. It is on one of these hunts that he first encounters Alaizabel Cray. Alaizabel is half-crazed, lovely, and possessed.Whatever dreadful entity has entered her soul has turned her into a strange and unearthly magnet--attracting evil and drawing horrors from every dark corner. Cathaline and Thaniel must discover its cause--and defend humanity at all costs.

My Ravings:

It's deplorable that The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is not more widely known in the US. Since it's release in 2004, it's garnered rave reviews and awards in the UK--but hasn't gone on to achieve the widespread fame that it deserves.

Dark, gothic, and utterly gripping, The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray tells the story of one Thaniel Fox--seventeen, orphaned and already a well-seasoned wychhunter. In Wooding's alternative version of Victorian London, all hell has been unleashed since the the Vernichtung--the bombing of London by the Prussians. Strange, savage monsters have inexplicably appeared and come to stay; infesting London and preying on innocent city-dwellers. Wychhunting, a thankless and indescribably dangerous profession, has arisen as the chief way to protect citizens and keep the monsters at bay. Thaniel's deceased father was the most infamous of hunters, and now Thaniel too hunts creatures by night.

Within the first scene, Thaniel has already sprung into action--using magic and pigs blood to track down a baby-stealing cradlejack, while silver airships hover above and the fog swirls around him.
"So deeply intent was he on keeping from toppling that he was a moment to slow in raising his pistol. A dark, scrawny shape, a flash of insane amber eyes and short, needle-pointed teeth, and then the roar of the pistol and terrifying weightlessness as he knew his balance failed him."
And immediately afterward, poor boy, Thaniel is attacked by a delirious, half-mad girl.

But this girl isn't what she seems. Her name is Alaizabel Cray, and she's possessed. Thaniel is drawn to her and decides to shelter her, despite the terrible danger and evilness of the spirit that resides deep within her. And since Alaizabel can remember precious little, an aura of mystery hangs about her. Readers will be desperate to know how a well-bred, kind girl has been reduced to such a despairing situation. Because she is haunted, the monsters are drawn to her. In one scene, a creature is hiding in her room:
"It is not there! something screamed inside her, her rational mind beating frantically at her whirling panic, fighting to cage it again. It is but a shadow, just a shadow!

But it was there, and it radiated an evil so thick that she felt that she might gag on it; a thing with no shape and no form, yet she could feel it's eyes, staring at her unflinchingly, regarding her with a dread gaze."
Alaizabel's descent into darkness closely mirrors that of London's--what had once stood in glory is now decaying around the edges. Add in the Fraternity, a secret society involved in a conspiracy, a pyschopathic mass murderer named Stich-Face, and an increase in monster attacks to to the mix, and London may be on it's dying legs.

Perhaps the genius of this novel is most fully realized in the atmosphere that Wooding creates with his alternative world. This book would most likely be classified as steampunk, with the Victorian influences, airships, and indecipherable historic events that are wholly different from our own. The world is more than three-dimensional--every aspect is fully fleshed out, from asylums to police detectives to beggars to mass murderers to high society. And this book is terrifying in it's possibilities--the chill and the dankness of London, the utter despair, the hopeless uncertainty of a world that could have been ours.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is saturated with dense, atmospheric descriptions, and as a result, the world of Thaniel and Alaizabel will haunt you long after you've put the book down. The monsters will lurk in the shadows of your house. The creakings of your bedroom door will seem to signify the coming of Stitchface, ready with a knife. The beating of the airplanes above your house may be mistaken for the "long, lined dull smear" of a lumbering airship.

Teeming with richly imagined descriptions, a suspenseful plot, and horrifying events, The Haunting of Alaizabel is a truly magnificent piece of work. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Golden Compass and Sabriel, and is absolutely astounding in it's inventiveness.

And above all?

Haunting.

Winner Announced!

The entries have been tallied, and random.org has spoken.

The EXTREMELY lucky (as in lucky enough to win on Friday the 13th) winner of Jenny Green's Killer Year is...

allisonrocks

I'm sending the email out and you have 48 hours to respond, or else I'll have to pick another winner.

Thanks to everyone who entered and spread the word about this contest! I'll be holding more giveaways in the future, so make sure you remember to stop by :)

11.11.2009

Reminder to enter my giveaway, plus some widgety stuff

A reminder: my giveaway for Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year ends on Friday. So hurry up and enter before the deadline! Click here.

And...I've been having fun adding new widgets. Sort of went crazy with it! They're fun, what can I say?

New stuff:
1)There's this beige chatbox, where you guys can leave me messages if you so desire. Or perhaps I'll just leave messages for myself. Who knows? The thing strikes me as useful--the endless possibilities beyond that beige, dull facade! The messages I could you could compose! Stray thoughts! Poetry! Musings! Study tips! Endless praise of YHYB (Your Humble Young Blogger)! There is no limit to your creativity! Although, I would prefer praise over, like..I dunno, death threats or something...

2) Top Commentators for this blog. People who deserve chocolate and shiny trophies that are at least as tall as they are.
WAIT, I KNOW! They deserve life-sized trophies MADE from chocolate! And no, I'm not paying ANY of these people to comment. Okay, there may have been some bribery involved...*twitches* I ADMIT TO NOTHING!

3) Why I use footnotes occasionally.

4) Those square boxes "You might also like" under posts. Because you might like those posts too! Although, it does strike me as rather assuming of the widget-makers that readers actually liked the original post in the first place. But I s'pose it makes for a better title than "You might also hate".

5)Teeny tiny blogoversary widget

6) The Daily Puppy. So what if they don't have anything to do with reading? They're adorable. Awwwwww.

AND THERE'S MORE COMING! BRACE YOURSELVES FOR A WIDGET ATTACK!

Waiting on Wednesday [5]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

***
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

***



Wow. This books sounds great--especially being "frozen out" and "making amends." I've recently read Cracked Up to Be (review coming soon) and it was AMAZING. So I'm super excited that another book by this author is coming out soon.And haha, the name Regina reminds me of Mean Girls!

Release Date: January 5, 2010

11.10.2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Squire's Quest


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should be Reading

Basically, the rules are:
* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall to a random page.
* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
* Share the title of the book that you're getting your teaser from... That way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
* Please avoid spoilers!

***

I'm doing The Squire's Quest by Gerald Morris today.

pg 42

"Yes, that is what I mean. If you love, you must suffer first in the heart!"

Sarah pushed her chair back from the table and rose. "I quite understand; I have a touch of indigestion myself."


***

Bahahaha! I love Gerald Morris' books. They're always very funny, along with the amazing King Arthur mythology!

11.09.2009

Award: Kreativ Blogger!!!

*grins ear to ear*

I've received another award! EEEEK! *sprays confetti everywhere*

Thank you thank you thank you Lori for thinking of me :D She's the wonderful blogger over at Some of my Favorite Things

Look how prettiful the award is: *admires shiny award*

I'm supposed to:
~ List 7 of My Favorite Things
~ Send this award on to 7 other bloggers

7 of my favorite things:
1. My family
2. Chocolate. Lots of it. (who would've guessed?)
3. The dizzying sight of a multitude of new books
4. My computer, especially when it's being typed away on.
5. Rain, particularly the sound of it hitting the window
6. Memories of Europe
7. Fall leaves, fluttering to the ground

And now onto the bloggers I'm passing this onto! I tried to stick with blogs I've recently started following. I love you guys all, I'd give the award to everybody if I could :)

1. Briana, Arielle, and Marissa over at B.AM. Book Reviews
2. Jessica over at A BookLover's Diary
3. Lauren over at I was a teenage book geek
4. Donna over at Bites
5. The Bookologist
6. Jenny over at Wondrous Reads
7. Sandy over at Pirate Penguin Reads

I THINK THIS CALLS FOR THE HAPPY DANCE! Whoot :)

Review: Fire


Book Description:
She is the last of her kind...

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next.

My Opinion:

Somewhere into the 150th page of Fire, I began to get restless. Not in the anxious I-HAVE-TO-KNOW-WHAT-HAPPENS-NEXT-OR-I'LL-DIE good way, more like in the meh-how-much-longer-until-the-end-way.

Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed Fire: it was certainly a good read. It just sort of....dragged a bit in the middle. And towards the beginning. And at the end. Which is something I was utterly unprepared for, given the fast-paced, chock-filled with action prequel of this book, Graceling. Graceling was a wonderful read. I thought Graceling was in the style of Tamora Pierce's books; a well-written, entertaining fantasy with extraordinary world-building, solid characters, and a fast-paced plot. Fire is along these same lines, and I was overjoyed that Cashore had come out with a new book.

However, if it's Katsa vs. Fire, Katsa certainly wins over. Fire, although complicated and internally conflicted, is just not my kind of gal. She's too perfect. The very essence of her characterization is perfectness: perfect body, perfect face, perfect voice, perfect motives, perfect everything--I get that's a key trait, but still. I don't like perfect characters. As a matter-of-fact, I hate them.

I know Fire's supposed to be perfect. But I just can't stomach that much talent and intelligence and compassion and BEAUTY in one person. If Fire was a real person, I'd want to smack her. Of course, I wouldn't be able to because then I'd mar the perfect beauty of her perfect face framed by her brilliant fire-red hair and irresistible eyes that melts a man in his tracks and causes him to go nuts and froth at the mouth while gibbering and riot and break her beloved fiddle and hit her in the cheek with a ring and treat her badly and follow her to the ends of the earth and want to kidnap her and yada yada yada (whilst Fire is busy restraining herself from using her extraordinary mind-powers because she's afraid she'll do evil, petting silky puppies, and babysitting young children).

Gosh. Who knew one girl could cause all of that by merely existing?

Fire reminds me of Edward--they both are wonderfully attractive (at least the author tells me so constantly) and Helen of Troy (the whole kidnapping thing because she's so darn irresistible) and Snow White (cuddly animals flock to her). I'm sure other readers will LOVE reading about her perfectly perfectedness, her incredible magical gift, her breathtaking fiddle playing, her penchant for saving people's lives, etc etc etc [insert more improbable perfect abilities/traits here].

FIRE, LIVE A LITTLE! Go take over somebody's mind because it's fun! Or do something dastardly with all that power! I just can't relate to her innocent, saintly behavior. That's it: Fire is a saint. Or perhaps a goddess. Certainly not a 17-year old girl that I would want to be friends with or talk to.

I think I'm being rather too harsh though--I'm chewing this book out even though it's a pretty good read. I did enjoy it, most of all the world building. Love the monsters and the descriptions of them--blue bunnies and raptors and shimmering monsters that want to eat Fire except...she eats them first. In addition, everything was wonderfully thought out. The world was so real and the military descriptions were utterly convincing. The love triangle was mildly interesting: I like who Fire ended up with, since the other guy was pretty unattractive. And I liked the minor characters as well as the flashbacks Fire had of her father. Also, I did enjoy the intricate politics and warfare going on--it lent another dimension to the story. Overall, Fire was well-written with good dialogue and even better descriptions. I was sucked into Fire's world entirely.

Since Graceling was so good, I had rather high expectations for Fire. I thought it'd be one of the best books I've read in a while. Which is a bit unfair, I'll have to admit. Don't get me wrong: I really liked this book. But it just didn't live up to a Graceling. If you liked Graceling, you definitely shouldn't miss out on this one--you may even like it more than Graceling, who knows? Maybe I was just crabby the day I read this. I think I'll reread it later down the line and see if I can relate to Fire more. But I can't help wishing that this book had been the sequel to Graceling--I'm longing for more Katsa and Po. *sigh*

I give it a 7.5-8/10

11.07.2009

In My Mailbox [4]

I actually had stuff from the mail yesterday! Two nice, book-shaped packages waiting for me after school. And then I toddled off to B&N to buy another book.

Won from Contest (at Princess Bookie):


For Review:


Bought:



1.Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle: OMG *fangirl squeals* SHE SIGNED THE BOOK! A real, living author has signed a book that I own! And there was bookmark and a door hanger as well. And she actually had to write my full name on a envelope before she sent it! I was literally jumping up and down when I saw that she'd signed it. I mean, this is HUGE. I am so excited! I've already read this book when it first came out, and I really enjoyed it. So I'm over the moon right now :)

2. The Squire's Quest by Gerald Morris: *more fangirl squealing* I LOVE HIS BOOKS. LOVE THEM! They are really hard to get a hold of around here, but I've managed to get my hands on most so far. I'm so excited to read this latest book of his that just came out--he's one of my favorite authors for sure.

3. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers: I'd been hearing so much good stuff about this book (*cough* Emilia + Jessica + Kody *cough* :DDDD) and then I read the first chapter on Amazon. And I was hooked, the I-need-to-get-my-hands-on-this-book-or-I-might-just-die-of-anticipation-kind. So yesterday, I bought it. And read it. AMAZING. More on this later, prolly.

So, in summation:

BEST. WEEK. EVER!

The is a weekly meme hosted by Story Siren.

11.06.2009

Friday Favorites [4]


You know, I'm in a sword-fighting-magic mood right now.

Why, you ask?

This Friday, the favorites pick is...Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce!

I decided just to focus on the first book--I don't really think I have it in me to review and do justice to the whole, wonderful Song of the Lioness Quartet at once. I love Tamora Pierce's books--and Alanna is definitely one of her best. I've been re-reading this book for years, but I never tire of it. If you haven't read book, scuttle/skeddadle/saunter/ now to a place of dead trees and snatch up a copy. I mean, NOW.

Book Description:
"From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight.

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl Thom heads to the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, in on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins—one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land."

My Ravings:

I've read Alanna: The First Adventure so many times that it's probably ingrained in my very being. My (very) tattered copy occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf--lesser books are strewn across the floor*. This book is one of chief reasons I love fantasy so much.

Tamora Pierce's books are my comfort reading. Bored? Angry? Tired? Unhappy? I only have to pick up a copy of Alanna: The First Adventure, and I'll be able to utterly lose myself in a wonderful world of magic, knights, and adventure. With Tortall, Pierce has created a fantasy kingdom that I want so very much to live in: I'll trade in school and my house happily for sword craft lessons and a chambers in a castle** anyday. Actually, Tortall is a distinctly King-Arthurish--the whole castles, knights, and quests thang is a strong component of the world.

Which brings me to my first raving: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE WORLD-BUILDING! I mean, luuuuuuurve. With this book, Pierce has managed to create a world as real as the one we live in. Flawless world building, so well-thought out, and probably very original at the time this was published eons ago***. The different cultures, the mythology, the magic, the Thieves Guild, the inner workings of the kingdom--they all combine to form a world that I want to travel to. Seriously. Take me to a book-a-real-machine ****, and Tortall would be right-dab on the top of my list.

Alanna is just the kind of strong-headed, bad-tempered, and reckless character that I love. She's not content to be stifled and forced to become a lady when what she really wants is to become a knight of legend. And she manages to get her way--by disguising herself as a boy, much in the tradition of Mulan or other women warriors of myths. I have to admire this girl's determination--throughout the book, she never lets anything get in her way. Ever. I mean, she works for it. She's a girl, and she's at a definite disadvantage against the older, stronger boys. But Alanna is really something inspiring; she never ceases training and trying to improve herself. I found myself thinking throughout the whole book: Whoot! Goooo Alanna! You go girl! You tell them! Because she's the perfect model of Girl Power!***** And although some people have been known to say that Alanna is a little too perfect, she really isn't. You should see the temper on her! And although we're inundated by descriptions of her fiery red hair and violet eyes, I like those sorts of details, especially in this case. And I don't know why, I've always been fascinated by how the color of her magic--violet--matches her eyes. Small details like that awed me as a young girl. Pretty much everything about this book awes me.

Okay, I'm admitting it: I want to be Alanna. But who wouldn't? She has a horse. A HORSE. She has a sword. A SWORD! She lives in a castle. A CASTLE! She can do magic. MAGIC! I want those four things desperately, but I'll probably never get them.

The book is just pure enjoyment. It'll take you on an adventure--with an unforgettable, determined character at it's helm, extraordinary world building, and a fast-paced plot. If you haven't read this book yet, you're really missing out on something. I mean, your life is really unfufilled at this point. It is. Not having read this book is the equivalent of not having ever eaten chocolate. ******GoreadthisnoworI'llforceyousomehowIdon'tknowhowbutneverfearIwill.

Alanna: The First Adventure is just the start of an altogether marvelous quartet--the next three books are equally gripping. Tamora Pierce's books never disappoint.

Here's to hoping that they make a movie. I really want a movie. Please?



*Oh yes. I am that messy, awful sort of person that never cleans their room. Trust me, I suffer for it. I'll spare you the details and the permanent mental scarring...

** <333 castles. Just love them. I WANT ONE!
***aka before I was born
****no, I have no idea what a book-a-real-machine is either. Something that lets readers actually travel to worlds in books, sort of like a time machine. Both sadly impossible, at this point. At least I think so. Unless their's some top-secret science experience going on riiiight now. *crosses fingers*
*****This book was perfect when I was in 4th grade. Cause, you know, boys have cooties. And girls like Alanna can totally kick their buts!
****** What a tortured existence that must be!

11.03.2009

Waiting on Wednesday [4]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: Gone by Lisa McMann

***

OPEN YOUR EYES.

Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she'd made her peace with it. But she can't handle dragging Cabel down with her.

She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He's amazing. And she's a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves--she has to disappear. And it's going to kill them both.

Then a stranger enters her life--and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she'd ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out...


***

I absolutely loved Wake and Fade, the first two books in this series. I mean, loved. Such wonderful, fragmented writing, and an interesting premise to boot. So I am beyond excited about the final book coming out in *gasp* only about 3 months! The book summary definitely has me intrigued--I really want to know who the stranger is!

Can't. Wait.

Release Date: February 9, 2010

11.01.2009

Review: The Official SAT Study Guide


I'm warning you now, this isn't going to be pretty...

Book Description:
The Official SAT Study Guide™ —with more than two million sold—just got better! Now offering 10 practice tests, The Official SAT Study Guide: Second Edition™ is the only book that features official SAT® practice tests created by the test maker. With over 1,000 pages and more than 20 chapters, it's packed with the most up-to-date information students need to get ready for the test.

Students will gain valuable experience and raise their confidence by taking practice tests, by reviewing critical concepts, test-taking approaches, and focused sets of practice questions just like those on the actual SAT.

The Official SAT Study Guide: Second Edition will help students get ready for the SAT with

- 10 official SAT practice tests, including 3 new recent exams
- detailed descriptions of math, critical reading, and writing sections of the SAT
- targeted practice questions for each SAT question type
- practice essay questions, along with sample essays and annotations
- a review of math concepts tested in the exam
- test-taking approaches and suggestions that underscore important points
- free online score reports
- exclusive access to online answers and explanations at collegeboard.com
- $10 discount on The Official SAT Online Course to all book owners

There's also a complete chapter on the PSAT/NMSQT®.

My Opinion:
I don't even know where to begin. But I'll start anyways. What a horrible, terrible, ghastly, revolting, painful, and torturous concoction this is! I couldn't finish this book, I really couldn't.

First of all, I had a HUGE problem with the characters. The Official SAT Study Guide is told from more than one viewpoint--in fact, three, but I still could not for the life of me relate to any the characters. I tried, for many hours at an end, to force myself to like this book. But I just couldn't do it.

I found Mr. Math to be insufferable--formulaic at best, easily predictable, and just down-right boring. Where is the life in him? Why must he go on about the thousands of hypotenuses and triangles and graphs he's acquainted with? He was just so dry and unlikeable. He kept repeating the same things over and over again, and although he boasted about how he was easy to understand, this was not at all the case. Furthermore, he seemed to take delight in other people's failures--always telling them they were wrong and that there was always a right answer--his. I really could not stand him at all. I sped through his section in the book, hoping I'd never have to read about any of his exploits again. What an odious, disgusting man.

Lady Writing was not much better. Although reading about her wasn't as painful, I found that her nature was very grating. Usually, I'm all for the tricky and capricious main characters--but not when she was trying her very best to trick readers! I found the experience to be very unpleasant--and her section was so carefully worded that I found myself having to ruminate over and question every little word. Lady Writing was far too uptight-- rules (many of them obsolete and meaningless) were her main concern. I really could not relate to her in the least, and I think the book would have been much better off without her.

And lastly, Miss Reading Comprehension. I really should've been able to like her the most out of all the characters--after all, we have the most in common. She really wasn't that bad (at least compared to the other two). But she was so wishy-washy that I quickly became annoyed. And although it wouldn't have taken much trouble to make Ms. RC remotely interesting, the author didn't bother to make an effort. As a result, she failed to spark my interest. Perhaps worst of all, she would go off on long, rambly talks about the most random things--invariably boring things. I found myself snorting at some of the words she used--no teenager would ever speak like that! I think the author would do well to observe teenagers before he attempts another novel.

I found another aspect of the book particularly troubling: the last section entitled "practice". Before long, this section had convinced me that the author must be some sort of deranged madman. There were hints of horrible things to come. Upon closer reading, I do believe that this section attempts to describe and prepare young adults for some obscure form of torture--no--not just describe it! Endorse it! This author seems to think that it is a good idea to resign oneself to torture--the sit-in-some-musty-room-and-turn-your-brain-to-goo-on-a-perfectly-good-Saturday-for-four-hours-kind. I found myself shaking and quaking at the atrocities described in this last section--and the praising tone throughout. The author of this book condones the pain and torture of millions of young souls across the world--which I find utterly revolting. At times, I couldn't stomach this section, so overwhelmed was I by the horrors within.

In addition, the plot throughout the book was nonexistent--nothing suspenseful happened. Ever. The pacing was equally horrible. I had no interest in what was going to happen next. I had no reason to care. And most of all, this book was far too long--997 pages! One of the longest, most tedious books ever printed, without a doubt.

The Official SAT Study Guide has nothing to recommend it. I wanted to throw it away against the opposite wall, tear it page by page, watch and laugh manically as it disappeared into a paper shredder. I wanted to see it broken-spined in a land fill, or curled up in the middle of a beach, ink washed off by the cleansing sea.

This book reduced me to tears and pained me to no end. Several times, I contemplated stabbing myself in the eye with a pencil in order to end my misery.

I despair of a world where this book is a bestseller. Who could've allowed such an atrocity to slip through the gates of publishing houses? What has the world come to where this book is widely accepted, and even critically acclaimed?

In turns awful, revolting, and unreadable, The Official SAT Study Guide might just be one of the worst books ever penned.

I give it a 0/10
.

YES, YOU SAW THAT RIGHT. I GAVE IT A ZERO OUT OF TEN!

Light ye torches, my goodly followers! We're having a bonfire tonight! A BIG, crackling bonfire. And guess what the fuel is going to be?

Disclaimer: I <333 you collegeboard, I really do. I'm just not sure you love me. Pleeeeeeease don't hurt me, I've already suffered enough!

This Week In Contests (11/1-11/7)

On Sundays, I do a rundown of book giveaways or contests around the YA blogsophere with deadlines this week, in addition to the sidebar I have. Because wining free stuff is pretty important.

***
Going by deadline:

11/1
The Undercover Book Lover (Not Really) is holding a (Fallen) Angels and (Possessed) Demons CONTEST

11/3:
Fantastic Book Review is giving away a copy of Stealing Death (ARC)

11/4:
Fantastic Book Review is giving away a copy of Candle Man

Pure Imagination is giving away: Wings, Going Bovine, and Night Runner

11/16:
Story Siren is giving away a copy of The Demon King and of The Midnight Guardian

Edge of Seventeen is giving away a copy of Catching Fire

Butterfly Book Reviews is giving away a copy of Eyes Like Stars

The Bookologist is giving away a copy of Just One Wish

***
That's about it this week, unless you want to enter my giveaway (deadline's coming up on 11/13) If I missed any, feel free to add in on the comments, I'll revise the post accordingly.

So...GO FORTH AND WIN! *showers luck on everyone*

Which one would you like to win most?

In My Mailbox [4]

I want to wish everyone a (belated) Happy Halloween! I had a great time handing out candy wrappers to the little kids :) And now onto Day of the Dead. Mmm Pan de Muerto. Mmm.

This is a weekly meme hosted by Story Siren.

RIBed:




Bought:


1. Fire by Kristin Cashore. I LOVED Graceling, so I was so excited!
2. Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri. I've seen this book a couple times at the bookstore, so I finally decided to pick it up.
3. The Official SAT Study Guide. Yes. Yes. I'm officially signed up for the TEST OF DOOOOOM. *cries*