Thursday, September 29, 2011

Follow Friday #2

Q. What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character? 

I'm pretty sure I've been pimping this book out forever, just because it's so fantastic! I would love to see more exposure for Noughts and Crosses  by Marjorie Blackman. It is a fantastic and thought-provoking plot, fascinating characters and heart-pounding action. Who would I cast as Sephy and Callum? Kyla Pratt and Jason Dolley. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting




Title: The Body Finder
Author:
Kimberly Derting
Genre: YA Paranormal mystery
Publishing Information: 336 pages; March 16th, 2010 by HarperTeen
Series: The Body Finder #1; sequels Desires of the Dead, The Last Echo and an Untitled fourth book (2013)

Where I got it:
E-book library

One sentence:
Violet Ambrose, high school junior, has two major problems on her hands: her special talent of sensing the dead makes her the only person who can stop a serial killer on the loose, and her feelings for her best friend Jay are starting to get in the way.

Themes:
Mystery, supernatural, serial killer, romance, best friends

Main character:
3.5/5
Violet was an extremely relatable female protagonist whose special ability does not diminish her ability to appeal to the audience. I found her reactions and emotions down-to-earth and strikingly realistic. To those who say she was a “Bella” type character, I would disagree and argue that while not fiercely independent, Violet’s times of needing help were more reasonable than a character who has everything figured out and can do it all on her own.

Secondary characters:
3/5
Obviously, the romance between Violet and Jay was adorable, but it was made even better because I have had a similar experience with a childhood friend. Jay himself, I wasn’t sure about. I wanted to know more about him, besides the fact that he was Violet’s best friend who had suddenly turned hot. Beyond that, there was actually very little secondary character development, which I found disappointing.

Writing style: 3/5
Derting’s style alternated between sweet, high school friendship turned romance, and intense, nail-biting suspense. The interludes from the serial killer’s point of view provided a break from the action and insight into the mind of a madman, but it also provided fodder for my sleuthing. The realistic dialogue and easy-to-read approach were nothing special, but got the job done.

Plot:
4/5
What a premise! The combination of the high-school drama/romance and the serial killer murder mystery with a dash of supernatural made for the perfect combination of sweet and suspenseful. The progression of Violet and Jay’s relationship had the perfect timing, especially when paired with the succession of murders and their search for the killer. Toward the end, I felt jolted from the story a little bit because of an encounter Violet has with the killer without learning his identity, but Derting smoothed out the rough points and pulled through.

Ending: 4/5
I enjoyed the ending! I was huddled on the couch, afraid to go on, but unable to stop reading. I LOVED the fact that it can be a standalone novel, and that it wrapped up the conflict!, even though there are sequels.

Best scene:
No doubt, that suspenseful ending!

Positives:
Interesting premise, quality portrayal of that premise, relatable main character, ending

Negatives: Underdeveloped cast of secondary characters, just ok writing.

First Line: Violet Ambrose wandered away from the safety of her father as she listened to the harmony of sounds weaving delicately around her.

Cover: Simple, but pretty!

Verdict:
A quality debut from Kimberly Derting that combines the drama of high school romance, the suspense of murder mysteries, and the fun supernatural aspect.

Rating:
7 / 10

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Witch & Wizard by James Patterson





Title: Witch & Wizard
Author:
James Patterson
Genre: YA dystopian fantasy
Publishing Information: 314 pages; December 14th, 2009 by Little, Brown & Company
Series: Witch & Wizard #1

Where I got it:
E-book library

One sentence:
When the nefarious New Order takes over, siblings Whit and Wisty Allgood find themselves fugitives, persecuted for their magic.

Themes:
Fantasy, magic, siblings, dystopian society, kid power,

Main characters:
3.5/5
Whit and Wisty were fascinating and witty teenage main characters. Wisty, in particular, was so quick and snappy that I instantly fell in love. Calm and steady Whit was a good foil to flighty Wisty, and I found them entertaining and their sarcasm funny as all get out. The only thing I had a problem with was that I wished there was more depth to their characters.

Secondary characters:
2.5/5
A more developed cast of secondary characters would have gone a long way for Witch and Wizard. The minor characters played their supporting roles, but I didn’t believe that they had individual lives, desires and personalities. I enjoyed the turnaround by Byron, but I was thoroughly disappointed by Celia, the dead girl who still lives.  

Writing style: 4.5/5
I know some people aren’t into Patterson’s writing style, but I absolutely adore it. The pace is breakneck: I am constantly on the edge of my seat, reading through the small chapters like my life depends on it. The quick chapters all end on cliffhangers, making it impossible to stop once you’ve started. Patterson’s writing style emulates, and is perfect for, a movie.

Plot:
2/5
Unfortunately, the plot was lacking for me. Everything was thrown at the reader with no background information. I wish I knew more about how the New Order came to be, how the resistance came into being, and other useful information. Furthermore, the plot was chock full of clichés, from the prophecy, the romance, and the kids uniting to take down the evil adults. On a side note, the excerpts from the New Order Propaganda at the end were cute and creative.

Ending: 1/5
GAH! I know I’ve ranted about it in other review, but really! What is with the YA trend that all novels must be part of a series, and all of those books must end on a complete cliffhanger, with absolutely no conflict solved? End of story, not cool.

Best scene:
The scene in the tunnel

Positives:
Fun and sassy main characters, entertaining and fast writing style

Negatives: Cliché plot, boring and unnecessary secondary characters, ending

First Line: It’s overwhelming.

Cover: Simple, but eye-catching. The ‘W’ in flames is definitely what drew me to the book.

Verdict:
I enjoy Patterson’s writing, but Witch and Wizard fell short of its promise for me.

Rating:
5.4 / 10 




PS- I definitely wrote this review twice. I wrote the first one on the airplane while I was en route to Buffalo, New York for vacation. Unfortunately, I left my review and my brand new copy of Linger in the backseat pocket of my plane. I was, needless to say, extremely frustrated. So enjoy! This is copy #2 of this review. And to whoever picked up my book- I hope you enjoy it, and my scribblings. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane



Title: Shutter Island
Author:
Dennis Lehane
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publishing Information: April 6, 2004 by HarperTorch

Where I got it:
Borders liquidation sale

One sentence:
In 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels is assigned to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from Ashecliffe mental hospital on Shutter Island, only to find that he is somehow connected.

Themes:
Mystery, detective, psychological thriller,

Main character:
3.5/5
Teddy Daniels was an intriguing, well-rounded character. Lehane dropped in so many additional details and quirks that created additional layers and made Teddy complex. His relationship with his wife was particularly revealing, although I wish I would have seen more interaction of him with his children.

Secondary characters:
3/5
Chuck was a fun secondary character, providing some comic relief while still moving the plot forward. He was a good foil to Teddy, and definitely helped to make clear the roles and limits of each character. I became confused with the many doctors around, and kept mixing them up, so I wish their personalities were clearer.

Writing style: 4/5
While I can’t call Lehane’s writing fast-paced, it definitely kept my interest. The writing was remarkable and descriptive; the action fascinating and entertaining. Lehane was incredibly skilled at leading the audience along his plotline, pulling them along with his twists and turns until they finally reach the ending.

Plot:
4.5/5
One major disappointment for me was that I watched the movie before reading the book, so I pretty much knew what was going to happen. One thing that I liked better from the movie (which is saying something, because the movie wasn’t very good), was the spooky aspect that was incorporated in (or at least shown in the previews). That was sadly missed in the novel, which focused more on the mystery part. However, I adored the premise, and the twists kept me guessing throughout.

Ending: 5/5
Superbly done, fantastic in both execution and action. I can’t tell you anything more except I adored it.

Best scene:
The ending, hands down. Didn’t see it coming.

Positives:
Well-rounded main character, writing style, plot and premise

Negatives: Less than perfect cast of secondary characters,

First Line: I haven’t laid my eyes on the island in several years.

Cover: My version had Leo and scenes from the movie, which was a little disappointing, but it still evoked the feel it needed to.

Verdict:
A thrilling and thought-provoking psychological thriller that left me wanting to read more from Lehane in the future.

Rating:
8 / 10

Monday, September 19, 2011

In Other News...


I'm back at school! This is my lovely room in the sorority, which I'm sharing with one of my closest friends. I know it looks crazy right now, but just wait until it's all put together.
In related news, because I'm so busy and have so much stuff to do, posts will be fewer and honestly, probably lesser quality. However, I'm absolutely determined to keep up my reviewing through the school year no matter what. I also haven't changed my address for a lot of things, so most of the mail I'm getting is still directed toward my house, so no IMM for a while! I'm disappointed too, because I had a lot of fantastic books coming. The only solution is to tell my parents to bring them down next time they visit!
Also, be expecting my first giveaway coming up (relatively) soon! I'm hoping to jump aboard a blog hop and give you guys something nice that I can ship when I go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Anyway, I know that's a lot of personal stuff that probably isn't very interesting, but any update is a good update in my opinion.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder



Title: Inside Out
Author:
Maria V. Snyder
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publishing Information: 315 pages; April 1, 2010 by Harlequin
Series: #1 in Insider series

Where I got it:
E-book from library

One sentence:
Trella, so-called Queen of the Pipes, is a scrub who works the lower levels, keeping them clean for the Uppers, until she accidentally incites a rebellion and finds out secrets she never knew existed.

Themes:
Dystopian, rebellion, revolution, secrets, romance,

Main character:
4/5
You know how in some books, the author introduces the main character as pretty and nice, but having some social flaw, and then you read the rest of the book and it never pops up again? This is not one of those. Trella has only one friend, Cogon, is disliked by the other scrubs, and lacks social skills. What I really loved was that, while this flaw was worked into the novel, Trella continued to grow through the work, particularly through her role as the leader of the rebellion.

Secondary characters:
3.5/5
Obviously, Riley was my absolutely favorite. Yes, he was an Upper, but he was sweet and cute and the whole ‘Sheepy’ thing was just adorable. He and Trella seemed to work very well together. I really wanted to like Cogon, but I just needed more from him- I didn’t feel like he had any flaws and he was definitely the stereotypical ‘hero’. One of the most intriguing characters was the Doctor; particularly when more information on her came to light.

Writing style: 4/5
My favorite part was probably the pace, because it was just right. There were definitely sections where the pace was jumping and others where it took some breaths. My one problem: the end became a little rushed. The writing itself had some good descriptions and action scenes, but nothing exceptional.

Plot:
4.5/5
I love dystopian novels, so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed this novel’s premise, however I also loved how Snyder was so thorough with her world-building and expertly written romance. The secrets, mysteries and plot twists gave continued depth to the plot, although some aspects were predictable.

Ending: 4/5
The ending was surprisingly satisfying for the first of a series- it left questions, but wrapped things up. However, it was also slightly anti-climactic.

Best scene:
The opening of the Gateway

Positives:
Writing pace, premise, strong characters

Negatives: Some stereotypical secondary characters, rushed ending, some parts seemed repetitive (Cog incarcerated)

First Line: A vibration rippled through my body.

Cover: Pretty plain- I think the simplicity is striking, but I would have preferred some more ‘pop’ to draw me in.

Verdict:
A good new addition to the YA dystopian genre- exciting, full of adventure and intriguing.

Rating:
7.6 / 10

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: The Ivy by Lauren Kunze with Rina Onur



Title: The Ivy
Author:
Lauren Kunze with Rina Onur
Genre: YA fiction
Publishing Information: August 31, 2010 by Greenwillow Books

Where I got it:
E-book library

One sentence:
Freshman year at Harvard is a whole new ball game for California girl Callie Andrews.

Themes:
Romance, college, parties, secret societies, secrets, drama

Main character:
4/5
I liked Callie immediately because I could relate to her. She made mistakes, she acted unwisely, she was a bad person sometimes; but it was all incredibly realistic. I enjoyed how Callie changed throughout the book; sometimes for the worse, but I think it was reasonable. The only thing that I would have liked to see is more character development on her part, sooner.

Secondary characters:
4/5
The roommates were extremely interesting and funny. I enjoyed Mimi and Vanessa in particular because they were both strong, witty and flawed, but lovable. Dana was definitely one-sided and a weak point in the novel- I feel like the authors used her as a critique of extremely religious people, which was unfair. I liked the fact that I didn’t hate almost any character except Lexi, because you don’t normally hate people in real life, you just dislike decisions or parts of their personality. Gregory was definitely my favorite- ultra sexy!

Writing style: 4.5/5
I loved the mixed media component of the writing, especially the yearbook comments at the beginning; they were a clever way to introduce us to the cast of characters. The first couple chapters were a little front loaded with information, but after that, the writing pace picked up and carried on at a good clip, which made it a fast read.

Plot:
4/5
I love the fact that this is about college-life. I really feel like there is a deficiency in YA fiction of good, college-age novels. While most of the conflict was nothing new, it was entertaining and I loved the secret society aspect brought in by the authors. I know some reviewers found that the party scenes were over-the-top, but as a current college student, I found them to be extremely realistic.

Ending: 2/5
Ugh, another book falls into the trap of ending on a cliffhanger because it’s in a series. I was even more frustrated because I was on a roll reading and really getting into it. Also, poor Callie at the end! Everything is going so wrong, which made me sad after I finished.

Best scene:
Where the gang gets high. Seriously, the silliest scene ever.

Positives:
Strong characters, interesting and fun plot, writing style

Negatives: The ending!, predictability,

First Line: Dearest Froshlings: peons and future leaders of America, Move-in day is officially here, and the upperclassmen cannot wait to welcome you to Harvard: our humble abode.

Cover: Very simple, but the red ivy draws the eye and fits so well with the title.

Verdict:
I really loved this entertaining college coming-of-age story

Rating:
8.1 / 10