Archive | June, 2011

Dr. Franklin’s Island by Ann Halam

30 Jun

Dr. Franklin’s Island

Author: Ann Halam

Pages [paperback]: 272

Favorite Characters: Semi & Miranda

Summary:

Semi, Miranda, and Arnie are part of a group of 50 British Young Conservationists on their way to a wildlife conservation station deep in the rain forests of Ecuador. After a terrifying mid-air disaster and subsequent crash, these three are the sole survivors, stranded together on a deserted tropical island. Or so they think. Semi, Miranda, and Arnie stumble into the hands of Dr. Franklin, a mad scientist who’s been waiting for them, eager to use them as specimens for his experiments in genetic engineering.

Review:

I read this book a long time ago, and recently picked it up again at the library because I remembered it was a great science fiction read and I was looking for something in that genre to satisfy the craving I’ve been having for that sort of book. DrFranklin’s Island was just as great as the first time around, reeling me in and dragging me along for the ride.

Of course, the book also freaked me out, in major ways. It took basically everything I fear (being trapped with no escape, having no one know that I’m alive) and throw it at me in literary form. It even succeeded in making me feel claustrophobic, just be reading it. While this is certainly a good thing, and I applaud the author for having the ability to do this, it certainly made for some interesting dreams the last few days. And definitely amounted to a whole lot of paranoia.

Personal fears aside, the novel was amazing. Focusing both on physical and psychological chances, while I have no idea if the events portrayed could actually happen (probably not, but I’ll leave the possibility open), the book made me think. And as I’ve said before, any work that can make me do that is automatically fantastic in my opinion. It explored the relationships between friends separated by horrific barriers, how at times inhumane activity and science can be mixed, and what it takes to remain truly human, among countless other things.

Filled with sinister villains and experiments, heartbreaking moments and pulse-pounding action scenes, Dr. Franklin’s Island is a great science fiction novel that I highly recommend, even to those who don’t usually read this genre. I don’t, and I ended up loving it. I give it 5/5 stars.

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

28 Jun

Uncommon Criminals

Author: Ally Carter [also wrote: Only the Good Spy Young]

Pages [hardcover]: 298

Heist Society #2
Book 1: Heist Society

Memorable Quote: “I for one like chaos. Chaos looks good on me.”

Favorite Characters: Kat & Hale

Summary:

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Review:

 I’ve always had a thing for thieves, and a great love of all things-books, movies, shows-centered around heists. As a result, this series is the ultimate addiction for me. I couldn’t put this book down; not only because I wanted to see how the plan would fall into place, but because there was another plot twist around every corner that kept me flipping the pages and holding my breath with anticipation.

I love how Kat is forced to deal with her own problems in this sequel. She’s been trying to do a more heroic form of stealing, taking only what was wrongfully taken from an owner in the first place. She’s been going on more and more dangerous jobs, all on her own, with no backup. While she’s a strong, independent teen who won’t listen to anyone’s advice and attempts to struggle through things on her own, she also has a group of great friends that try to give him some perspective.

Speaking of her friends, I like how each of them is characterized perfectly and given their own personality and set of flaws. They stay true to themselves, even if it nearly botches an operation or makes everyone else hate them momentarily.

I could also picture everything perfectly as it was happening, which was awesome. I could see Kat trying to work out how to get the emerald. I could see her moving through every step of the plan, trying to get everything to work perfectly.

I give Uncommon Criminals 5/5 stars. It is a great book that I will reread over and over again. I can’t wait for the next installment of this series! I just hope it will be as fantastic as the first two.

Teaser Tuesday 6-28-11

28 Jun

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

This week’s quote comes from Radiance by Alyson Noel:

And while it may seem weird for a person to look to their dog for guidance, the thing was, Buttercup’s the one that led my family to the bridge. He’s the one that leaped across first. -pg. 57

I’ve had this book for a while, just picked it up, and am really starting to get into it.

Check out the book trailer! :

Books to Movies: Charlie St. Cloud

27 Jun

I’ve been dying to see the film version of Charlie St. Cloud ever since I read the book it was based on, way back in September. I think that’s when the movie was in theaters, actually,  but I ended up never seeing it. Luckily I found the time to watch it the other day, and was pleasantly surprised with how true it stayed to the novel. I fell in love with the book, so full of twists and turns I never knew what to expect. I knew, when seeing the movie, I couldn’t forget that I already had the ending fixed in my head. A good movie can make you forget that, and that’s what this did.

Zac Efron is an actor I’ve warmed up to over the years, and he did a splendid job playing Charlie. I loved going through every emotion of the loss of his brother with him, and following him on the path to closure.

One aspect I really liked that was emphasized a lot in the film and not so much in the book is that for a majority of the story, you can’t be sure whether Charlie really is seeing these ghosts, or if he’s truly as crazy as most of the people in town think he eyes. The psychological part of it was nicely portrayed, and brought around a new level of the book I hadn’t considered before.

Charlie St. Cloud was a great movie. It made me want to laugh, cry, and appreciate everything that I have, before it’s too late. I’ll definitely be watching this again, and I highly recommend it.

Check out the trailer! :

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

26 Jun

Insatiable

Author : Meg Cabot [also wrote Avalon High, Size 12 is Not Fat, and Airhead]

Pages [hardcover]: 451

Favorite Characters:
Mary Lou & Jon

Summary:

Sick of vampires? So is Meena Harper.

But her boss is making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them.

Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die (not that you’re going to believe her; no one ever does).

But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side . . . a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

The problem is, he already is dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met that she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own.

And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.

Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future . . .

If she even has one.

Review:

 I love Meg Cabot. I’ve been branching out of her young adult fiction and have started reading her books geared more toward adults. Insatiable had an interesting premise, especially because it seems everyone and their mother is writing about vampires these days. My first thoughts were, “Oh, no, not you too.” But then I saw that the main character was as over the blood sucking craze as I am. That redeemed it for me, and made me want to pick it up. I ended up reading it with mixed results.

I really liked the main character, Meena, for a majority of the book. I thought she was very strong, knew what she wanted out of life, and how exactly to get that. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself, but she wasn’t above having petty concerns, either. Somewhere before the climax of the novel, she started to change. I can’t exactly put my figure on what was different. But her actions weren’t fitting with her personality that had been established. That distracted and annoyed me.

There were other, odd little bits that didn’t quite mesh for me. The Dracul were stereotypical bad guys, who seemed like they were trying really hard to be intimidating, while working against Lucien, who seemed nearly invincible, most of the time. Characters that I was led to believe were important were killed without another mention of them.

While it didn’t capture my attention the way I’d hoped, it wasn’t a complete disappointment. I might continue on with this series, I might not. Maybe if it comes into the library, but I won’t be going out of my way to buy the sequel. I give Insatiable 3.5/5 stars.

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

24 Jun

 

Cloaked

Author: Alex Flinn [also wrote: A Kiss in Time & Beastly]

Pages: 341

Memorable Quote: He bursts into tears, and not some manlike tears either, where you pretend you’re brushing something off your face and, incidentally, wipe a tear. Nope. He starts bawling like a kid who spilled his Slushie…

Favorite Characters: Meg & Todd

Summary

I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.

Review:

 I love Alex Flinn! Every book I read by her just makes me love her a little more. Twisted or modernized fairy tales are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, but Cloaked takes off a bit of the guilt by making me feel like I’m learning about new stories that may not have had the spotlight they’ve deserved in recent years. Sure, I’m completely familiar with The Elves and the Shoemaker and The Frog Prince. Ever heard of The Six Swans or The Valiant Tailor or The Salad? I hadn’t, until I read this. Now I’ll definitely have to look up a few of those, especially the last. The title is . . . interesting. By mixing elements from all of the aforementioned titles as well as many more, Alex Flinn serves up a brand new fairy tale that will have you flipping the pages to find out what happens next.

Johnny, a poor and overworked shoe repair guy, with dreams of designing his own shoes, is a great main character. While he does have several unselfish motives, he still does a few things solely for himself (a shoe pun? Did I just do that?). I liked how while most of his intentions were pure, he was still realistic. I don’t know of many people who would put their lives on the line for a complete stranger, albeit a very beautiful one.

This book was funny one moment, serious the next, and overall it had a ‘quest’ feel to it that made it seem like an old tale while the setting was modern day Florida. It had a little bit of everything in it; romance, suspense, comedy, evil villains, brave heroes . . .

Cloaked was wonderful, and definitely a novel I’ll remember for a long time! It’s as great as the other two twisted fairy tales by the same author, Beastly and A Kiss in Time. I can’t wait to read more and branch out into the other books written by Alex Flinn. I’m sure they’ll be just as good!

I give Cloaked 5/5 stars.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

17 Jun

Peter and the Starcatchers

Authors: Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

Peter and the Starcatchers #1
Book 2: Peter and the Shadow Thieves
Book 3: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon

Pages: 451

Memorable Quote: Black Stache had no love for the Queen, no love for women of any sort, except for his ma. He had a real soft spot for his ma, and was truly sorry for the time he’d marooned her.


Favorite Characters
: Molly & Peter

Summary:

Don’t even think of starting this book unless you’re sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger. Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

Review:

I was wary of starting this, because Peter Pan has to be my favorite classic fairy tale. I didn’t think this could possibly live up to my expectations and capture the fun and serious tale that I’ve loved. I was wrong.

Peter and the Starcatchers, while giving a completely different take on how Peter got to Neverland, and how the island actually came to be, is refreshingly original, while still maintaining the adventurous feel of the original tale. I liked the different twists added, and was kept constantly on the edge of my seat. Each chapter was short and quick, often switching viewpoint between several characters: Peter, Molly, Black Stache, and many more. I loved each of them equally, because they were all well-defined and loveable-even the villains. The good old Captain definitely held my interest.

This book had me laughing aloud. The humorous quips and sarcastic remarks, as well as the conversations between Smee and Black Stache, had me trying to stifle my laughter. Even in the most serious of scenes, there was still an air of childish mischief, which I adored.

I loved seeing how everything fell into place by the end of the story. It was a bittersweet ending for me, and while it made complete sense, it saddened me. I was still hoping for that happy thing I knew couldn’t possibly be. Still, a girl can dream.

I really want to read the other books in this series, immediately. I can’t wait to get my hands on them. If they’re as good as this one, they may soon be one of my all-time favorite series. If you’re looking for an action-packed, fairy tale-esque, funny, addicting novel, this is the one for you.

I give Peter and the Starcatchers 5/5 stars.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

10 Jun



A Great and Terrible Beauty

Author: Libba Bray

Pages [hardcover]: 403

Memorable Quote: “How can my ankles and arms be obscene?”

Favorite Characters: Pippa and her knight, Reginald

Summary:

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

Review:

 I didn’t expect to like this book. It started very slow for me, with several attempts at starting it, setting it aside, and then starting over once again. Finally, I convinced myself to read it, and once I was about a third of the way through, I began to like it, though there were a few things that hindered my enjoyment.

Gemma wants to make friends. In that respect, she’s exactly like any other teen girl. But she complains about how Ann immediately abandons her whenever it looks like it will make her more popular. A few chapters later she’s willing to do anything to keep the friends she’s managed to make, despite not actually wanting to participate. She’s a hypocrite, but then again, many people are. This irked me, and made me dislike her, because combined with her selfish attitude, she seemed exactly like the people she did not like.

I did think the supporting characters were wonderfully defined, and raised the plot immensely. Kartik was delightfully mysterious, though sometimes it seemed forced, and Pippa was the group’s romantic, though air-headed member. Even the teachers, so often neglected in young adult novels, had personalities and lives of their own.

While it isn’t one of the best books I’ve read, the plot of A Great and Terrible Beauty was unique and gripping. I kept wanting to see what would happen next-if the danger level would rise-but perhaps the great event I’ve been looking forward to happening will occur in the next book. I’ll definitely have to get that, and read more of Gemma’s journey of discovering herself.

I give A Great and Terrible Beauty 4/5 stars. Recommended for those who like historical fiction with fantasy thrown in.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

6 Jun

Hush, Hush

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Pages [hardcover]: 391

Memorable Quote: “Keep in mind that people change, but the past doesn’t.”

Favorite Characters: Vee & Patch

Summary:
For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her…until Patch comes along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Review:

I’ll admit that I started this book with low expectations. I only picked it up because my friend recently read it and started raving about how fantastic it was. I figured if she liked it, I should give it a try too.

In the beginning of the book, I hated Patch, as a person. As a character, I thought he was brilliant. Very arrogant, cocky, and definitely not the typical mysterious, brooding male lead. He works to make Nora uncomfortable, and while I would have had the same reaction, it made me laugh. He was great!

Nora was a good character, too. Loyal to her friends, and to herself. She has her own personality issues, but sticks true to herself throughout the entirety of the novel.

By far, Vee was my favorite. Her incessant attempts to hook Nora up with someone, her flippant attitude about school, her odd little diet, all added up into a fun character. I loved reading about her.

At points, the book did get on my nerves. Some things seemed to make no sense, but once I reached the conclusion, I realized exactly why everything had happened. While I was happy that the loose ends were neatly tied, I would have liked something less . . . Puzzling. But perhaps that only added to the book’s excitement. It had me on the edge of my seat (or bed, depending on where I read it) through nearly the entire thing. I read way later than a should have and  skipped out on homework and study time to get just another page in.

It was worth it. Especially for that ending. It was my second favorite scene in the entire book. The first has to be when they were in the hotel.

And that’s how I know a book has gotten to me, no matter how long (or short) a time it took to win me over. If I’m still thinking about it and picking out favorite bits of dialogue and scenes, you’ve got me hooked.

I can’t wait to get the second book, Crescendo. I’d love to read it right now! Hush, Hush gets 5/5 stars from me. Go read it! You might be surprised and love it, too.

May 2011 Wrap Up

3 Jun

This month, I read:

The Adoration of Jenna Fox [Fox #1]-Mary E. Pearson
The Alchemyst [Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1]-Michael Scott
The Dead Tossed Waves-Carrie Ryan
Across the Universe-Beth Revis
Snow-Terry Lynn
What Happened to Goodbye-Sarah Dessen
The Iron Queen [Iron Fey #3]-Julie Kagawa

Books I purchased: 0
Won in Contest:  0
Borrowed from friend: 3
Checked out from library: 4
Review books: 0
Pages read: 2492

Challenge Status:

Show Me the Free: 0/12
2011 Debut Author Challenge: 1/12
Edgar Awards Reading Challenge: 1/5
2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge: 6/15
Retold Fairy Tales: 5/6
Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge: 1/4

This month was very hectic, but fun. I loved a lot of the books I read, and some were in a series I was dying to read. Hopefully next month will be filled with awesome books that I’ll want to read again and again.

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