Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card




Title: Ender’s Game
Author:
Orson Scott Card
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publishing Information: 324 pages; January 1st, 1985 by Tor Science Fiction
Series: Ender’s Saga #1

Where I got it:
Border’s liquidation sale

One sentence:
When child genius six-year-old Ender Wiggin is recruited by the government as defense for a hostile alien race’s next attack, his life changes forever in ways he could never imagine.

Themes:
Space, battle, war, kids, aliens, saving the world,

Main character:
4/5
Ender was a fascinating, well-rounded character. He consistently felt older to me than his age, but because it had been thoroughly explained earlier in the novel, it was nothing that significantly turned me off. I particularly enjoyed Ender’s struggle with his situation and his emotions and actions seemed reasonable and realistic. Ender is one of those characters who continue to be sympathetic, despite the fact that he is undoubtedly supposed to be a character whose smarts and abilities place him in a different league than most children.

Secondary characters:
4/5
I especially loved the secondary characters because they were almost more human than Ender was. Petra was cute and bad-ass at the same time, Alai was sweet and I loved how he befriended Ender, and I adored Bean, who was spunky and an absolute riot. The struggles that Ender had making friends made those relationships even more fantastic and heart-warming.

Writing style: 4/5
Card’s writing style was built for a movie remake- the action scenes are intense and heart-stopping, the sentences short and quick to the point. I was slightly disappointed by the choppy sentences and the slightly juvenile style, but it seemed to move along well and I was rarely jolted out of the book.

Plot:
5/5
Absolutely fantastic! I was a little nervous about the premise, but Card executed it brilliantly. I absolutely adored the battle tactics and politics in the system, which was complex and entertaining- exactly the sort of thing I love to read. Further, there are such deeper questions brought up by the ending that challenged my opinions and thoughts on the entire novel.

Ending: 4.5/5
What a shocker. Honestly, the climax was so fantastic and shocking, but the final ending was something on its own. It brought up so many more questions and discussions that just brought a further level to the novel.

Best scene:
The climactic scene was just phenomenal- wow.

Positives:
Strong, compelling characters, fantastic plot, ending!!!!

Negatives: A few weak characterizations, sometimes the writing was childish.

First Line: I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one.

Cover: A little retro- I wanted something a little more modern and mysterious.

Verdict:
So good! I really don’t know what else to say. Even if you don’t like science-fiction, definitely try this novel out.

Rating:
8.6 / 10

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Boy Crazy by Hailey Abbott



Title: Boy Crazy
Author:
Hailey Abbott
Genre: YA fiction
Publishing Information: 304 pages; April 28th, 2009 by Harper Teen
Series: Stand alone

Where I got it:
E-book from the library

One sentence:
For their first summer reunited, Cassie and her best friends Greta and Keagan decide to switch things up and leave commitments at the door as they dare each other to kiss ten different boys by the end of the summer; the only problem? Cassie may have met the perfect guy way too soon.

Themes:
Romance, summer, bet, boys, high school

Main character:
2.5/5
It wasn’t that Cassie was a completely unlikable main character; on the contrary, I enjoyed her point of view immensely. I simply wished Abbott had given me more background on her, or at least developed Cassie into a multi-layered character. For what the novel was, Cassie was a very relatable character who represented a wide cross-section: a girl who liked to have fun, but was a little intimidated by the ten boys proposition.

Secondary characters:
2/5
Keagan and Greta similarly seemed very one-sided: both seem to conform to a certain stereotypes whether it was the control-freak or the flirty girl. I think the novel would have taken on that higher level if the characters had been more developed. Trey seemed slightly more complex, but insincere at times and just lacking a general likeability.

Writing style: 3/5
While the writing style wasn’t especially mature, it was easy to read and the pacing was fast enough to keep my attention, but not so fast that I was completely lost. The dialogue was down-to-earth and realistic, and made it an enjoyable style.

Plot:
3/5
A cute but overdone premise. I enjoyed the twists and turns, but there was really nothing I hadn’t seen before. Some of the background info was lost and more was needed to complete the story and make some things logical.

Ending: 4/5
Different than I expected. The entirety of the book had been very predictable, so the ending was surprisingly innovative and mature.

Best scene:
The scene at the club

Positives:
Relatable main character, sufficient writing style and plot, ending

Negatives: Nothing spectacular or special, boring and unlikeable secondary characters

First Line: “I declare this a ten-boy summer!”

Cover: Cute; definitely fits with the beachy-read look.

Verdict:
A fun, if predictable, summer beach read; light-hearted and carefree.

Rating:
5.8 / 10

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots



Title: Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
Author:
Abby McDonald
Genre: YA fiction
Publishing Information: 304 pages; April 13th, 2010 by Candlewick Press
Series: Stand alone

Where I got it:
E-book from the library

One sentence:
When Green Teen activist Jenna travels from New Jersey to Canada for the summer, she learns infinite amounts about wilderness survival, boys and compromise.

Themes:
Summer, romance, environmentalism

Main character:
4/5
Jenna was a clever, smart and witty main character who grew into herself as the novel progressed. When it opened, I found her to be passionate and ambitious but rather self-righteous in her cause. Her experiences in Canada really opened her up to the idea of compromise and empathizing with others, which really made her a more enjoyable main character and I loved the moral lesson attached. I also liked how she was willing to stand up for herself- both at the beginning, but especially in a hard scene at the end.

Secondary characters:
3/5
A couple of the minor characters seemed really one-sided, including Olivia and Fiona. Although Fiona changes toward the end, she seemed really flat to me at the beginning. Ethan was a really interesting character to read- a genuinely nice guy, with a secret. I wasn’t sure about Reeve at the beginning, but he definitely grew on me. I wish that he had more depth- I felt like I didn’t really know that much about him.

Writing style: 4/5
McDonald had a down-to-earth, effortless writing style, chock full of realistic dialogue, clever witticisms and easy action. The first couple chapters were a little heavy on the take-off, but I found that once McDonald settled in, the writing style was easy to read.

Plot:
4/5
What a cute little plot! I love the idea of incorporating someone who is so sold in their ideals, particularly about something that’s a little trendy and modern, like the environmentalist movement. While the plot and twists weren’t extremely original, the way that McDonald executed them made them entertaining and fun. And okay, there were a few twists that I for sure didn’t see coming!

Ending: 4/5
Not what I expected. I was a little disappointed in Jenna’s relationship decision, but everything wrapped up nicely, so I have nothing else to fault. I enjoyed how the point-of-view changed so we can see some of Jenna’s future.

Best scene:
Jenna’s confrontation toward the end of the novel

Positives:
Fun writing style, plot, main character

Negatives: Sometimes flat secondary characters, some unoriginal aspects,

First Line: “Re-use! Re-duce! Re-cycle!”

Cover: Cute! It describes the book perfectly and gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Verdict:
A perfect summer beach read- the exact amount of cute romance, fun adventure and even some edge-of-your-seat moments.

Rating:
7.5 / 10

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox #3


I'm ecstatic about this haul- it's the first I'm posting since I've been at college this year. I can't explain how happy it makes me to see packages with my name on them show up at my house. In this haul, I got:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver from Esther's Ever After.
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin from Stop Drop and Read
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and Wake by Lisa McMann from Barnes and Noble.
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater from The Bookish Babes

Thanks for sending these along! It makes my day when they show up!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause



Title: Blood and Chocolate
Author:
Annette Curtis Klause
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publishing Information: 264 pages; August 11th, 1997 by Laurel Leaf
Series: Stand alone

Where I got it:
E-book from the library

One sentence:
Werewolf Vivian Gandillon feels torn between her love for her wolf-body, and her desire to be normal; so when she falls in love with the human Aiden, she finds her loyalties tested to the limit.

Themes:
Urban fantasy, romance, werewolves, mystery, murder, suspense,

Main character:
4.5/5
Vivian was such a different character than what I am used to in YA fiction. She came off initially as arrogant and brusque, simply because she was incredibly self-confident. I loved how passionate she was about who she was- it a refreshing change from the protagonists who based their self worth only on their love interest. Further, her manipulation and sexuality is so different from countless other main characters that I’ve read. I enjoyed how open Klause was about Vivian’s downfalls, which made me enjoy her selfless and sweet moments even more.

Secondary characters:
3.5/5
I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t particularly like any of the secondary characters, except maybe Aiden. Vivian’s mom was ridiculous: over-the-top in her sexuality and attempts to be at the top. The Five were childish and rude. I was turned-off by Gabriel’s ease at letting the women fight over him and at his lack of respect for his elders. Still, I found it realistic with the premise and I didn’t find it distracting to the point where I couldn’t read any more. Each of the characters had their own redeeming qualities which allowed me to see past some of their faults.  Aiden himself was sweet and kind, but also a fully developed character with a background and faults that became obvious.

Writing style: 4/5
The pacing was perfect- the description was light but illustrative, the action was intense and spaced well, and the balance between the two was just right. Vivian’s dialogue fit her character perfectly, and I never had that moment where I scoffed at something. I loved the separations based on the month and moon descriptions, and the wolf-colloquialisms that pointed to a werewolf-culture.

Plot:
4/5
While certainly nothing new, I found Klause’s spin on the werewolf-novel fascinating. In particular, the plot wasn’t necessarily human-centric. While Aiden was an important catalyst of change for Vivian, the novel focused on her and her struggles with being a werewolf. The world-building was also particularly outstanding, and I found that it added another, deeper level to the book that made it all the more enjoyable to read. The clash at the end was also stunning, especially this little character/plot twist, and the solution to the mystery was thrilling.

Ending: 3.5/5
I’m not sure how I felt, just because it was kind of out-of-the-blue. However, it didn’t feel wrong in any way, and I enjoyed the romance.

Best scene:
The final clash at the river

Positives:
Original characters, writing style, plot

Negatives: Plot originality, unlikeable characters, out-of-the-blue ending

First Line: Flames shot high, turning the night lurid with carnival light.

Cover: Pretty! For the ‘90’s. Fits the book particularly well- the moon phases, girl-wolf, chaotic colors.

Verdict:
A fascinating and sexy read that predates many of our YA favorites, but is just as good.

Rating:
7.9 / 10

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan


Title: The Demon’s Lexicon
Author:
Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publishing Information: 336 pages; June 2nd, 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry
Series: The Demon’s Lexicon #1

Where I got it:
Borders liquidation sale

One sentence:
Brothers Nick and Alan Ryves have always been on the run from the magicians and the demons who give them their power, until a brother and sister come to the Ryves for help and drag them deeper into a game of cat and mouse and secrets that could change Nick’s life.

Themes:
Fantasy, demons, magicians, magic, siblings, paranormal

Main character:
4/5
I’ll admit I was not enamored with either Nick or Alan at the outset of the novel, however as often happens, they grew on me. Nick is literally a sociopath, which is so different from anything I’ve ever read! A foil for Nick, Alan seemed like a pushover for most of the novel; however he definitely appeared in a different light at the end. The brothers’ development created well-rounded, fascinating characters that I was emotionally invested in.

Secondary characters:
4/5
Brennan excelled at expert characterizations in even the most minor characters. Jamie and Mae were thoroughly written, full of twists, surprises and quirks. I found them to be slightly clingy and dependent in the first half, but again, they came into their own in the second part of the novel. Even Nick and Alan’s mom is illustrated perfectly, despite her minimal appearance.

Writing style: 3/5
The writing started out slow and awkward, but picked up speed until the second half of the novel was nearly break-neck speed, making it impossible to put down. The action was intense and suspenseful, but was balanced out well with sometimes-over-the-top description. The foreshadowing was basically nonexistent.

Plot:
4/5
The world building was astounding- from the demons and magicians and the rules that govern their magic to the Goblin Market. What a treat to read! The plot was interesting and kept me engrossed in the tale of Nick and Alan. And that plot twist! Wow! I never really saw that one coming, but it definitely took the novel to a higher level.

Ending: 4.5/5
That plot twist definitely made the ending something to remember. There were so many possibilities and ways that Brennan could have ended the novel, but the myriad of twists and turns revealed more about the characters and made everything all the more richer.

Best scene:
The end!

Positives:
Interesting and unique characters, world building, PLOT TWISTS

Negatives: Slow introduction, just okay writing style

First Line: The pipe under the sink was leaking again.

Cover: A little tacky, but definitely intriguing.

Verdict:
A fun demon read with world-building and twists that take it to the next level.

Rating:
7.8 / 10