Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Alex's Top 20 Books of 2009

I'll jump on the bandwagon and do it too. :) Sounds fun, but such a daunting task. Narrow my 150 books down to 20?


20. The Way He Lived- Emily Wing Smith
I read this one at the beginning of the year, but something about it still remains. It's written in 6 perspectives, all about how the death of one boy affected these 6 people. Very different and interesting.

19. The Demon's Lexicon- Sarah Rees Brennan
I love me some fantasy, and the mixture of bad boys and plot twists kept the novel exciting. Review here.

18. Dream Factory- Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
I've read a couple other novels by the duo, and Dream Factory is my favourite. It's incredibly quirky and sweet, with little insightful quotes and fun characters.

17. Good Enough- Paula Yoo
About an Korean girl and her life, really, trying to please her Korean and hardworking parents, while learning on her own and making tough decisions. It just really resonated to me, and it's also insanely funny.

16. When You Reach Me- Rebecca Stead
My most recent read on the list. It's a little like Jellicoe Road, with the structure and confusion it induces, and how it all ties up in the end. I really liked it, but I think it needs a reread for me to get everything, and to love it.

15. All We Know of Heaven- Jaquelyn Mitchard
I've read this a couple times now... and each time I cry and love the novel. I've tried to read The Midnight Twins by the same author, and didn't enjoy it at all, but AWEoH, I love.

14. My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park- Steve Kluger
Lots and lots of fun to read, with multiple plot lines and several voices, it reads quickly but leaves you wishing for high school to be like that. It isn't (at least not for me).

13. Hate List- Jennifer Brown
A review by me, here. Really poweful novel.

12. Audrey, Wait!- Robin Benway
Crazy fun, with the lovable Audrey and a voice that draws you in. It really is hysterically funny.

11. Wintergirls/ Speak- Laurie Halse Anderson
Review of Wintergirls here. Second ever on this blog, actually. :) Both are written magnificently, with girls with different and enormously relative topics.

10. Cracked Up To Be- Courtney Summers
Parker, the main character, is the kind of girl I love to read about. Confused, with lots of attitude, some dark secrets, and completely enthralling. Small novel packs a real punch.

9. The Miles Between/ The Adoration of Jenna Fox- Mary E. Pearson
I couldn't pick between them, because they're both great for totally different reasons, and are completely different books. Neither has a review, but I suggest reading them if you haven't already. TAoJF recently came out in paperback, and the cover is GORGEOUS. Another book I want to own.

8. City of Glass- Cassandra Clare
One of my favourite fantasy series, (being topped by a couple like HP, which isn't on the list because I sadly haven't read Harry in ages... it's on my list of rereads), and the last is probably my favourite. Though all three are fantastic.

7. Jellicoe Road- Melina Marchetta
It's a strange book, but it's so, so good. Actually, I should reread it. Or own it. (Hey Lauren...)

6. 13 Reasons Why- Jay Asher
I love the uniqueness and power of 13 Reasons Why. I was so hooked, I read in class. In front of the teacher. Usually I'm a little more discreet.

5. Looking for Alaska- John Green
Read before we started the blog, but John Green is one of my idols. Lovelovelove. I've recently become addicted to his youtube channel. :)

4. Catching Fire/The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins
Since it's a series, I stuck them together. Reviews by Alex and Lauren. We may also have a Hunger Games review hidden.... but I don't really feel like finding it. This series doesn't really need an explanation.

3. Dairy Queen- Catherine Murdock
Never reviewed the series here, but it's one of my all time favourites. Lauren doesn't understand why, but I LOVE the series, and D.J. I just read Front and Center, which, while I didn't like quite as much as the first, is still awesome.

2. Fire- Kristin Cashore
This should actually include Graceling, because I'm trying to fit as many different books in this list as I can. Reviews here and here. Kristin Cashore is such a wonderful author, and I know I'm not the only one to be eagerly awaiting her third book.

1. Ballads of Suburbia- Stephanie Kuehnert
The winner! (Which I reviewed here.) I found it just all around amazing and powerful. :)


But I did it! But man, it was tough. And I'm still wavering on the order of the list... but this is mostly how it is. I just don't have my preferences very defined, so this was really hard. Y'all better appreciate it.

Hopefully next year will be even bigger and better, and more posts on this blog will actually come. My reading slowed down like crazy in November and December, until my break started, and I read a book a day for a bit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lauren's Top 20 Books of 2009

Hi everyone! Hope the holidays are going well :) So hopefully both Alex and I will both end up doing this - I can't get a hold of her since she left for the West coast so we'll see... but after (thankfully) completing my goal of 100 books in a year, I figured why not highlight my favorites? So here they are, pretty much in order I'd say, with a link to a review if one was written :)

20. The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

Really interesting, creepy book with an unexpected ending :(

19. Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

review by Alex

18. North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley

joint review here

17. Wondrous Strange - Lesley Livingston

Over the course of the year, my faerie love grew :) This is just one of those books and it's got an adorable story to it.

16. Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt

After loving The Glass Castle, I decided to try this one. Enjoyable - it's my dad's favorite book.

15. Jellicoe Road - Melina Mancetta

Crazy book. I was so confused at first but there's something about it that just draws you in. By the end, I was in love.

14. I Am the Messenger - Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief still remains as my favorite book of all time, but I Am the Messenger was also a great read. Really interesting plot concept :)

13. Love You, Hate You, Miss You - Elizabeth Scott

review by Alex, Lauren

12. Lament - Maggie Stiefvater

This was my year of Maggie Stiefvater. Probably my favorite author at the moment - her books just have a great combination of stuff that I love :)

11. Skunk Girl - Sheba Karim

review by Lauren

10. Eyes Like Stars - Lisa Mantchev

review by Alex, Lauren

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling

Yes. The Harry Potter love never dies. That's all I can say.

8. Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

review by Lauren

7. The Treasure Map of Boys - E. Lockhart

review by Lauren

6. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

review by Alex, Lauren

5. This Book Isnt' Fat, It's Fabulous - Nina Beck

review by Lauren

4. Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

review by Lauren

3. Graceling - Kristin Cashore

My big fantasy fix. Love her writing and creativity :)

2. Ballad - Maggie Stiefvater

The irishness and faeries of this book made me so happy :) And her characters are adorable

1. Fire - Kristin Cashore

review by Alex, Lauren

Have a happy new year everyone & I'll see you in 2010 - 100 books? We'll see...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Random News

Hey guys, I've resurfaced :) Momentarily... to bring you a couple things!

First off, I would like to announce that both Alex & I have now completed our 100 Books in a Year challenge for 2009 - Alex finished ages ago but that's not important.

Secondly, I am very sorry that the blog has pretty much died :( We've both been so busy lately now that grades have started counting plus both of us are working now.
Hopefully this will make you feel better/I know it's beyond random but where else can you share this? So a couple weeks ago, Alex celebrated her birthday with a super awesome cake :) (excuse the size but it's from my cellphone :/)
and just in case you were wondering, it is our blog banner. On a cake!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review by Alex- Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen
Sara Black is tiptoeing across a fraying tightrope.

As the new eleventh grader at Anton High – the most elite public school in the country – she sticks out like an old VW bus in a parking lot full of shiny BMWs. But being the new kid also brings a certain advantageous anonymity.

In Anton High’s world of privilege, intelligence, and wealth, Sara can escape her family’s tarnished past and become whomever she wants.

And what’s the harm in telling a few little black lies when it can lead to popularity? That is, until another it girl at Anton becomes jealous of Sara’s social climbing.
With her balance evaporating, one small push could bring Sara crashing down.

First Impressions: Reading that synopsis, Little Black Lies sounds pretty average. The description on the back is a bit better, but I couldn't find it online.

But while it seems a little mediocre at first, it isn't. Not even close. The characters are really unique and interesting. There's tons of quirks that make each one special. For instance, Sara's dad has OCD that acts up unexpectedly and her mom, a chef, is MIA in Sara's life.

Another thing that set Little Black Lies from other novels, is the setting. Yes, it's an elite school. But it's a completely nerdy elite school. Emphasis is on marks, averages, brains, not anything else. One of the most "popular" kids, the ones who can get away with saying anything to others, is a perverted little boy, but who has a genius brain. It might be because my school is like that, to a lesser degree, so I could relate, but the fact that the school is so mark-driven and different from other schools, is what makes the book shine.

The actual plot, Sara going to Boston, entering a new school, pretending her dad isn't a janitor, being befriended by the popular, smart girls, lying about her past and herself, falling for the most powerful girl's boyfriend, etc. etc. It's dramatic and quite Gossip Girl-esque, so it's not usually my type of plotline. It is the average part of the book. But it's made up with the previously mentioned pluses of the novel.

I do wish some of the minor characters were developed more, along with the romantic relationship. The reader learns about some of the them, but some of the others girls are just briefly described, even though they play a pretty important role in the novel. The romance feels a little forced and is only brought up now and then, but that's forgettable.

The humor and and actions are spot on. It's easy to relate with Sara, and to understand why she would lie, even though that doesn't make it pardonable. Thankfully, Sara doesn't get off scotch free, after all her lies, and everything is not tied up with a pink bows with unicrons prancing around. So add realistic as another plus.

Final Impressions: Overall, Little Black Lies takes the usual new girl lying plot and twists it to make a fun and quirky novel to read. The characters and setting are on the unusal side which makes the novel stand out dramatically. Definitely a must-read for a cross between The It Girl-like books and John Green-weird like details.

Add to Shelf: Go for it! An excellent book- and paperback! :D

Note This! The school's name is Anton, and thus, the students are "Ants". This makes for adorable titles and sayings, which actually had me giggling aloud at times.










Friday, November 13, 2009

Review by Alex- Dull Boy

Oh dear. It's terrible. Not a post in two weeks. >.< I'm afraid school's just taken over my life as I try to do well and bring up my average. But I'll try to post at least a little more frequently than it has been recently. For now, here's a review:

Dull Boy by Sarah Cross
What do you do if you can deadlift a car, and you spend your nights flying to get away from it all? If you’re fifteen-year-old Avery Pirzwick, you keep that information to yourself. When you’re a former jock turned freak, you can’t afford to let the secret slip.

But then Avery makes some friends who are as extraordinary as he is. He realizes they’re more than just freaks—together, maybe they have a chance to be heroes. First, though, they have to decide whether to trust the mysterious Cherchette, a powerful wouldbe mentor whose remarkable generosity may come at a terrible price.

First Impressions: I love anything to do with teenage superheroes, and superheroes in general, so it should come as no surprise that I was super excited to read Dull Boy.

For the most part, Dull Boy takes fun tone to the whole superhero idea. Avery loves his powers sometimes- he can fly and he's super strong. But with all that, it's hard to control himself. He wants to become a hero, not just a boy with powers. Hence, him being relegated to a school for dangerous kids after trying to stop a bank robbery and failing.

At the school, and at a coffeehouse he frequents, he meets new friends. His old friends abandoned him for the most part, as Avery was constantly trying to find someone to help. (Think Incredidles.) With his new friends, they form a team of superheroes, trying to fight crime together. They laugh, they have fun, they fight and have the usual teen angst... and they beat baddies. Awesome right?

A lot of the book is made up of amusing ideas for the team to be heroes. There's also that Cherchette who's trying to recruit some of them... But there's also some real life issues: friendship, helping others, and believing in yourself to be good.

The climax is this huge action explosion that had me reading until late at night. The Cherchette plotline gets huge and there's lots of really interesting revelations. The ending is very open, and makes me wonder if there will be a sequel... one can only hope.

Final Impressions: Superhero fans rejoice. Sarah Cross delivers an excellent novel of teenagers just trying to fit in and be friends, but while saving to save others and each other. It's not uber-epic bad, where the kids are saving the world, but a lighter and sweeter tone. Just my cuppa tea.

Add to Shelf: I think I may have to. Superheroes!

Note This! I love this. Catherine, one of Avery's friends, and a member of the team, has super balance and claws. I laughed when I made the connection with her name. Catherine... Wolverine... XD











Sunday, November 1, 2009

In My Mailbox (22)


A pretty slow week, but they're some of the books I've been eager to read.
From the library:
Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri- very interested in this one, though I've never read the original Faust story.
Immortal by Gillian Shields- still debating on reading this one. It's gotten some bad reviews, and I'm pretty tired of sub-par paranormal books that ressemble one another. Got it from the library anyway...
Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters- Got this one without knowing much about it. It's LGBT though, so that's great.
Liar by Justine Larbalestier- Liar sounds really good and twisted!
And that's it for me this week. Nothing bought or received, but I did get some goods ones from the library. Oh libraries, what would I do without you?
IMM hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
- Alex

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Review by Alex- Two-Way Street

There are two sides to every breakup. This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation. Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet. It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care. But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot. Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

First Impressions: Two-Way Street sounded like a perfect light rom-com with a lot of wit and fun. It's nice and short so it would be a wonderful weekend read.

And I finished it in a day.

Two-Way Street takes a look at two of the most ultimate teenage experiences: finding and losing a significant other. Courtney and Jordan are complete opposites. She's the anal girl who's a bit tight strung but smart and organised. Jordan's the player, the kind of guy who listens to rap music and thinks of getting girls as a game. Somehow though, they get together- mostly because they will be attending the same college come next year.

The novel starts after Courtney and Jordan get together and break up. However, time often switches back so we get to read how the two meet and what happens to make it all go wrong. You would think this 4 way perspective would get complicated and confusing, but it isn't. Each chapter is directly labeled so the reader knows who's speaking, and if this is the past or present.

I love the voices. Courtney and Jordan both have very unique and distinct voices that are completely different. There are some books where the multiple voices are the same, which bugs me, but thankfully that's not the case for Courtney and Jordan. Their voices go with their personalities, and it's awesome. They both sound like realistic teenagers, and I could honestly imagine their thoughts and dialogue coming to life.

The plot's interesting, though I find a bit a little spotty. The premise of having to go on a roadtrip with an ex is great, but the reason why Jordan broke up with Courtney is a tad wimpy. It's just... typical, I guess.

Both Jordan and Courtney are fully realised, and are nicely foiled by their two best friends, who are also in a relationship, however screwball it is. The two relationships are completely different and that's what makes is wonderfully humorous.

The ending's predictable, but it's cute and satisfying nonetheless.

Final Impressions: Pretty much what I figured it would be, but I didn't expect to enjoy Two-Way Street quite as much as I did. It's a very well done rom-com that balances humor, romance, depth, and pretty much everything else perfectly.

Add to Shelf: I think it's worth it. But it's the type of book I'm not sure if I'd re-read...

Note This! I mentioned the two best friends, didn't I? Well they actually play a pretty crucial role in the novel and reveal juicy details. Jordan relays info to his friend via cellphone, Courtney does the same. So it's really funny to read about the spread of communication and knowledge, if that makes any sense. xD











Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review by Alex- Blue Moon

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel
Eager to learn everything she can about her new abilities as an Immortal, Ever turns to her beloved Damen to show her the way. But just as her powers are increasing, Damen’s are waning. In an attempt to save him, Ever travels to the magical dimension of Summerland, where she learns the secrets of Damen’s tortured past; a past which he has always kept hidden from her. But in her quest to cure Damen, Ever discovers an ancient text that details the workings of time. Now Ever must chose between turning back the past and saving her family from the accident that claimed their lives—or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows sicker every day...


First Impressions: Read Evermore back in July. (Review here.) I wasn't super excited to read Blue Moon, but I did read it because I was interested in finding out more. Evermore ended well, so I was hoping that would continue over to Blue Moon.



Sadly, to me anyway, Blue Moon's a lot like Evermore. The beginning is slow without much interest, and it isn't until the last third of the book that it really picks up. If you, like me, feel your attention to the book waning, I encourage you to read on, because it does get better.


However, Damen and Ever's dependance on each other grated on me pretty much the whole time. It seemed they couldn't go an hour without each other and sucking face. I'm not too sure how the other characters handled them all the while fairly amused and tolerant (I say fairly- they joke and complain, but they don't go around slapping Damen and Ever like I would have done). Their constant PDA creeped me out. Other than that, the relationship between the two was... well no. I still don't like their relationship. I guess their lack of independance shows how much they love each other?


In Blue Moon, a new character is introduce: Roman. Typical good looking charmer who seems to have everyone wrapped around his finger. But Ever doesn't like him- not one bit. Meanwhile, Damen's power is waning, and he seems to be constantly ill and chugging the immortal juice. Oh my.


For the plot, I really do like it. Mostly the second half, where things finally start to get exciting. There's quite a bit going on, but it works nicely. Also, we finally get to learn Ever's and Damen's histories.


The whole world Noel has created, that mix of alchemy, magic, zen stuff etc. is different and interesting. Summerland is a place I'd love to really learn more about, although we do happily get to know more about it in Blue Moon, as Ever's travelling there quite often.


What brings the book down, is as I said before, the characters. Ever's this completely oblivious girl who fails to see some of the most obvious things. At some parts, I could sympathise. And then all my sympathies would be blown away when Ever makes another silly decision. Damen was interesting, although for the most part he wasn't present enough. Haven, Ever's friend, is ridiculously annoying and I have no idea why Ever is friends with her, excluding being desperate.

The writing's still nice and smooth. It's super easy to read without many glitches. It gets descriptive, but some of it's actually nice- especially the depiction of Summerland.


Final Impressions: It's on the same level as Evermore. The ending's wonderfully exciting with some twists but the beginning's blah. The world's nicely created, but the characters are too annoying for my tastes. I probably will read the third book in the series, but I'm not in a rush.


Add to Shelf: Not for me. The Immortals series is mostly a one read for me, and that's enough. But I'm sure others will suck this series up.


Note This! I didn't mention before, but we also get two new characters: Romy and Rayne, twins who help Ever in Summerland. But who are they? And are they really helping Ever? Duh duh duuuh.





Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Beautiful by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma
Publishing date: November 3, 2009 (soon!)
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Goodreads ][ Amazon
Description:
Her friends once thought she was perfect. Now she must face the mirror--and herself--to discover what true beauty is.

Since childhood, seventeen-year-old Ellie Summerfield has fought to overcome her grandfather's painful words that push her to be driven, determined, and successful to the detriment of those around her. Ellie has everything a girl could want--she's beautiful, she's Senior Class President, has a calendar full of social engagements, volunteer commitments, and church activities. In short, she's perfect, according to most of the students at West Redding High School. But something is bothering Ellie, like a loose string on a dress she can feel but can't see. Does she really love her boyfriend, Ryan? Who are her true friends? And is she really happy in her picture-perfect life?

Then in the course of a few minutes, the loose string in Ellie's life completely unravels. Forever changed, she must face herself as she discovers what it really means to be beautiful.


Doesn't that sound GOOD? I always love stories of the seemingly perfect girl falling back to earth aka normality and off that pedestal. Plus, that loose string? And true beauty's always so interesting and insightful to read about. :D

What's your pick of the week? WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review by Alex- As You Wish

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can't deny that he's falling for Viola. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.

Jackson Pearce spins a magical tale about star-crossed lovers, what it means to belong . . . and how important it is to be careful what you wish for.


First Impressions: I'd read so many good reviews that I was really excited to read As You Wish. So much so, that pretty much as soon as I got a copy from the library and finished my other book, I started reading.

As You Wish has the light and funny tone and fast pacing as expected. It's incredibly sweet and had me giggling at many parts. The topics of independance and popularity/invisibility are well approached with a mix of serious and lightheartedness.

What I didn't like as much as I thought I would was the main female character, Viola. For some reason... she grated on me. She is a really kind girl, but she's low on self-esteem and doesn't believe in herself. She wishes to be popular, to be loved how others are loved, to have talent, but she doesn't actually want to use a genie's wish to make that happen. Her heart is in the right place, most definitely. But she lashes out at others, and mopes a lot. It's a little aggravating, because that's pretty much all she ever thinks of.

Minus my issues with Viola, the other characters are very interesting. Jinn, the other narrator, has been a genie for a while now, granting humans' wishes. He's tired of it and wants to go back to his home, where nobody ages and everything is perfect. He thinks Viola will just be another trivial human and nothing else. But he's in for a surprise...

The relationship between Jinn and Viola is quite darling, although everything happens very quickly. In a span of less than a week, it seems that the two fall in love. Jinn, being close to Viola, who's confusing and emotional. Viola, because Jinn truly understands her (although I think it's mostly because he's a genie and can sense wants and desires).

I really do love the fact that Viola grew up with a childhood friend, dated said friend at the beginning of high school for more than a year, but then he realised he was gay and told the truth to Viola and broke up with her. This happened before the start of the novel, but it really caused Viola's fragility and need to be someone's One.

The writing's smooth and flows very quickly. This might have something to do with the fact that the lines are 1.5 or double spaced, so the novel isn't very long at all. It's really easy to speed along and finish As You Wish in less than a day.

The whole magic aspect was well thought and and intergrated in the novel. The genies' powers to meld wishes are described nicely, as is Caliban, the world where all the genies live while not on duty. Then there's the efrits, genies who have trained to push a human to make a wish when needed- and often violence is needed.

The ending was a bit of a surprise for me, actually. The general idea of what happens is pretty obvious, but the how was a pleasant shocker.

Final Impressions: All in all, great premise, magical creatures, nice writing, and well-dimensioned characters, though I sadly couldn't sympathise with Viola. As You Wish is definitely a must-read for fans of Coffeehouse Angel or just sweet, fairy-tale like novels.

Add to Shelf: Maybe if I can find it on sale... Or perhaps in paperback. But I didn't like it enough to buy it in hardcover.

Note This: Viola's actually an artist, which I always love to read about. She feels she doesn't have enough natural talent though. So art plays a huge part in the novel in ways to express oneself. :)









Monday, October 26, 2009

Monthly Mix - October 2009

I know, I know, I'm on hiatus. But I had this done up anyhow & I figured I'd spread it around. My life is just crazy right now - I'm working 2 jobs and blablabla grade 11 is tough.


So here's my favorite songs from this month - hope you enjoy them! :) Not book related, I know, but it's just a little present for you wonderful followers ^_^



monthly mix:
october 2009


1. It's My Life/Confessions Pt. II - Glee Cast

We all love Glee :)


2. When I Go - Slow Club

If I get to sixty will you let me slip away
Into an armchair for the rest of my days
Cos you've got your family and I've got mine
The love that we share is for another time


3. Life Less Ordinary - Carbon Leaf

The night you came into my life
Well it took the bones of me, took the bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me



4. Three Wishes - The Pierces

And you want three wishes:
One to fly the heavens
One to swim like fishes
And then one you're saving for a rainy day
If your lover ever takes her love away



5. Welcome Home, Son - Radical Face

Ships are launching from my chest
Some have names but most do not
If you find one, please let me know what piece I've lost



6. Protons, Neutrons, Electrons - Cat Empire

We're just flesh with socks and locks and frocks
And I am here to say to you
On the day that I die I’ll just give a smile and fly into the blue


7. Meet Me On The Equinox - Death Cab For Cutie

Meet me on the Equinox
Meet me half way
When the sun is perched at it's highest peek
In the middle of the day



8. Sweet Caroline - Glee Cast

Was in the Spring
And Spring became the Summer
Whod've believed you'd come along?


9. I Swear This Time I Mean It - Mayday Parade

So I'll sing a melody
And hope to God she's listening
Sleeping softly while I sing
And I'll be your memories
Your lullaby for all the times
Hoping that my voice could get it right
Could get it right


10. Thief In The Sky - Carina Round

Spanish bar on american street
Your'e the one i like the mostest
Holding hands by the sea
Like holding on to a ghost



11. Be OK - Ingrid Michaelson

Open me up and you will see
I'm a gallery of broken hearts
I'm beyond repair, let me be
And give me back my broken parts


also over at my livejournal

entire zip - coming soon (comment if you'd like it)

image credit

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In My Mailbox (21)

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Bought:

Paper Towns by John Green (Collecting all of John Green of course. Love him.)
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers (Finally bought after wanting to own for ages. :D)

Borrowed:
Riding the Universe by Gaby Triana (It's about motorcycles... which is different. I know nothing about them, but the novel sounds good despite that.)

Received:
All from Steph Su. Thank you so much! :D

Ash by Malinda Lo (It looks really good and has been getting a lot of praise. Plus I love fairy tale retellings.)
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan (Read a while ago and adored.)
The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander (This sounds SO adorable. And it reminds me just the slightest bit of Dairy Queen, which I love so...)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Read a while ago, but it's so good, you want to own it.)
Fire by Kristin Cashore (Between Lauren and me, this is our third copy, so we'll be giving this one to a friend most likely. Spreading the Cashore love! :D)

And that's what I got this week. :) Pretty good I'd say, with lots of goods books I've been wanting to read/own. How did you all fare?

IMM hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, but idea thought up by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

- Alex

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Review by Alex- Academy 7

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
With a past too terrible to speak of, and a bleak, lonely future ahead of her, Aerin Renning is shocked to find she has earned a place at the most exclusive school in the universe. Aerin excels at Academy 7 in all but debate, where Dane Madousin—son of one of the most powerful men in the Alliance— consistently outtalks her. Fortunately Aerin consistently outwits him at sparring. They are at the top of their class until Dane jeopardizes everything and Aerin is unintentionally dragged down with him. When the pair is given a joint punishment, an unexpected friendship—and romance—begins to form. But Dane and Aerin both harbor dangerous secrets, and the two are linked in ways neither of them could ever have imagined. . . .

First Impressions: I saw this book first on someone's blog (can't remember exactly who's now :/) and have been excited ever since. Sci-fi + romance = :D.

I'm not too sure why, but Academy 7 wasn't what I expected. Some good surprises, some bad. Academy 7 is a light science fiction, which you don't really get from the summary or the cover. But opening up the book, it becomes obvious from the first page.

Aerin and Dane both have a tangled past. Aerin is a fugitive, picked up by the Alliance, the ruling government of much of the universe, and deemed bright enough to attend the highest school possible, Academy 7. Dane is a rich and prominent boy in society- his dad, is after all, a general of some sort for the Alliance. He's grown up with wealth, luxury, and a gaping hole in his heart. They meet at Academy 7- the top school for training kids. Aerin hates Dane almost at first glance, Dane is astounded by the strange Aerin who knows so much and so little at the same time.

The romance is predictable, but very cute. The relationship between Dane and Aerin is very delicate and tender, as they both have dark secrets. It's a bit of give and take, but they quickly start spending all their time together. Both characters are well fleshed out and interesting, their actions explained well by their pasts.

The writing however, threw me off completely at first. When I think science fiction, I think dystopian. Dystopian with clipped, utilitarian prose. Academy 7 has anything but that. The writing is very flowery. It seems like the author took her lessons to heart and put in as many adjectives, strong verbs, and adverbs as possible. It's a little much in the beginning, but the prose soon smooths out, as the plot thickens and the excitement builds.

Academy 7, while science fiction, doesn't delve much into how their present happens. I don't believe time is ever mentioned, but there are suddenly many, many planets, some hugely amazing technology, and hovercrafts that don't exist now. How those all came to be, is not explained. Instead, all the new inventions and planets serve as background, and while important, they play second to Aerin and Dane's discovery of themselves and each other. Values are pushed, stretched, and defined, as Aerin and Dane connect their pasts together.

Final Impressions: Academy 7 doesn't exactly pack the punch I was expecting, but it's a great novel nonetheless. At turns exciting, at turns sweet and endearing, it's sure to put a smile on your face in the end.

Add to Shelf: Maybe... I took this one out from the library, and think that's enough for me. But it's a paperback, so it isn't too expensive. :)

Note This: Aerin and Dane are often defined by their parents. Aerin's mysterious and dead dad and unknown mom. Dane's deceased mother and overpowering father. It's very enjoyable and heartwarming for the two to break out of their parents holds and to learn more about their parents connections to each other.





Thursday, October 22, 2009

Life's hard

/life sucks.

Lauren's on an indefinite hiatus. (Insert boos here.)

School is getting killer.

And does anyone know much about programming? Because if so, yours truly desperately needs help.

To make this post not quite as lame:

How do you all balance life and blogging? Or just life and computer time?

Because I'm now having trouble. And could really use some tips. I've tried scheduling some posts in advance, and that helps. But I feel as if I'm unable to post more than 2 or 3 posts ahead of time, which is not enough to get me through the week. Also, reading has dried up, and so that means less reviews. :/Sigh. I'm really missing those lazy summer days. I can't be the only one, can I?

If you comment and/or have helpful tips, I'd be eternally grateful.

-Alex

EDIT: I mean to say programming for C++. Computer programming. Thank you all for your kind words, encouragement, and help! :D

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Happyface by Stephen Emond
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publishing date: March 1st 2010
Goodreads ][ Amazon

Enter Happyface's journal and get a peek into the life of a shy, artistic boy who decides to reinvent himself as a happy-go-lucky guy after he moves to a new town. See the world through his hilariously self-deprecating eyes as he learns to shed his comic-book-loving, computer-game playing ways. Join him as he makes new friends, tries to hide from his past, and ultimately learns to face the world with a genuine smile. With a fresh and funny combination of text and fully integrated art, Happyface is an original storytelling experience.

Hailed to be like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but for teens, Happy Face sounds like a fun loving, finding oneself contemporary read. I haven't read much of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, besides a couple pages, but I can see why it's so appealing to young ones. Happy Face sounds like the kind of novel that will get teens to read, but also interest those who read a lot. Like me!

Plus who can resist a cover that's bright yellow with a bold smiley face?

- Alex

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Review by Alex- Goddess Boot Camp

Goddess Boot Camp by Tara Lynn Childs
*spoilers for Oh. My. Gods. most likely in abundance.*
Phoebe, who recently discovered she’s a descendant of Nike (the goddess, not the shoe), is finding that supernatural powers come with a crazy learning curve. Her stepfather, headmaster of the Academy for descendants of the Greek gods, has enrolled her at Dynamotheos Development Camp—aka Goddess Boot Camp—with a bunch of ten-year-olds for the summer. Embarrassing as that is, hopefully it’ll help her gain control over her powers in time to pass the test of the gods, continue training hard enough to qualify for the Pythian Games, and enjoy her godly boyfriend, Griffin, all while avoiding the ultimate mistake of accidentally misusing powers.

It’s another fast-paced myth-inspired heroine’s quest that’s sure to bring out the goddess in anyone.

First Impressions: Having just finished Oh. My. Gods. I was happy to start up Goddess Boot Camp. I expected it to be the same sort of light greek mythology tale, and it doesn't disappoint.

Following the trails of Oh. My. Gods., Goddess Boot Camp returns to Phoebe and her path to control her powers. Sadly, Phoebe isn't getting far along that path. Her stepfather's solution: Boot camp. For 2 weeks, Phoebe's stuck with annoyingly young girls and her stepsister and enemy as counsellors.

The actual powers of the different descendants of gods are more delved into in the sequel, luckily. At the beginning of each chapter, we have a little info box stating a power of each of the gods. For example, descendants of Poseidon have the ability to move liquids. Each power has a special name that's long and of which I forget. But it's fun to learn about.

Another plus- the characters get more background. Adara, Griffin's ex-girlfriend and Phoebe's enemy, reveals a bit of herself, and turns out -gasp- maybe not to be some souless, conniving, pancake of a character. Phoebe's stepsister, Stella, also gets more time in the novel and the relationship between her and Phoebe evolves.

While Goddess Boot Camp has many good qualities, I found it slightly lacking compared to Oh. My. Gods. Perhaps the novelty of greek gods wore off on me. I just found the plot to be a little less enticing. It has a little more seriousness than Oh. My. Gods., that while good, was slightly off putting to me. A tad less humourous parts, a lot less Griffin, except when Phoebe trains.

Final Impressions: Although falling just a little short of Oh. My. Gods., Goddess Boot Camp is a wonderful addition to my woefully lacking reading of greek mythology. And most likely, it'll please many who love mythology and humour.

Add to Shelf: Same with Oh. My. Gods. Maybe, but still on the fence.

Note This! A lot of the plot involves around the mystery that is Phoebe's dad. In the last novel, Phoebe learns that her dad was smoted for flaunting his powers in the nothos (human) world. But now Phoebe has the chance to figure out exactly what happened to him, and how he chose it so. And some mysterious figure is taunting her with that info...







Monday, October 19, 2009

Review by Alex- Oh. My. Gods.

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
When Phoebe’s mom returns from Greece with a new husband and plans to move to an island in the Aegean Sea, Phoebe’s well-plotted senior year becomes ancient history. Now, instead of enjoying a triumphant track season and planning for college with her best friends, Phoebe is trying to keep her head above water at the ├╝berexclusive Academy. If it isn’t hard enough being the new kid in school, Phoebe’s classmates are all descendents of the Greek gods! When you’re running against teammates with superpowers, dealing with a stepsister from Hades, and nursing a crush on a boy who is quite literally a god, the drama takes on mythic proportions!

First Impressions: I'd heard some good things about Oh. My. Gods., so I requested it from the library. Didn't get to reading it for a long while, but I was excited for it.

Oh. My. Gods. is a blend of contemporary, romance, believing in yourself, sports, and oh yeah, greek gods. Or really, the descendants of greek gods. Think Hercules and all the other demi-gods. These descendants, from Aphrodite to Zeus, have powers- which puts Phoebe in a difficult situation, her not having powers.

Childs takes the lot of cliches and spins them so they become new and fresh. Phoebe, the bratty teen, is forced to move to another continent because her mother decides to marry a man she's known for a week. In Greece, Phoebe has to deal with a terrible step-sister, and all the cliques etc. at school. But add in special powers and greek gods, and then you've got a barrel of fun.

Phoebe's a great character. She takes the typical angsty and pouting teen and makes it hysterical. She's easy to relate to and has many of those common problems. She also runs cross country. Amazingly. Which, as I run, is majorly inspiring. (Though Phoebe's in a league of her own compared to me.) The running and sports aspect is a definite plus in the novel.

While Phoebe's done well, I found the other characters aren't as fleshed out as I'd like them to be. Griffin, the love interest, acts a little disjointed and strange. Phoebe's old friends are present mostly during emails and IMs, and it's hard to really understand their characters besides the basics. But well, since lots of the characters have superpowers, it makes up for some of the lackings.

Even though the gritty details about the minor characters aren't divulged, the characters do add a lot of humor. That's what Oh. My. Gods. has. That smile-inducing charm that's impossible to resist.

Final Impressions: Super cute and funny novel, lighthearted and quick. It's perfect for an afternoon of reading. If you like greek mythology, you're in for a treat.

Add to Shelf: I'm torn at this one- it's a wonderful read, but to buy... probably in softcover.

Note This: I mentioned this, but Phoebe runs. She hopes to get a scholarship and so therefore, is amazing at it. She's dedicated and hard working. The cross country team is also how she gets to know Griffin. Through running, Phoebe's personality really shines.











Sunday, October 18, 2009

In My Mailbox (20)

IMM by The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie.

Borrowed:

Viola In Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani
Shipped off to boarding school in South Bend, Indiana, city girl and aspiring filmmaker Viola Chesterton feels out of place with her three new roommates. Missing her life back home, Viola is tempted to hide behind her video camera all year. But first impressions are often wrong, and soon Viola realizes she’s in for the most incredible year of her life—if only she can put the camera down and let the world in.
I've heard some mixed reviews for this one, but since it sounds like a book I would like, I'm interested in it!

Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

Emerson Price cannot remember a time when life was ordinary. She was four-years-old when she and her mom were diagnosed as HIV-positive – infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and eight when her parents divorced. Now she is thirteen and her mother is dead. Emmy moves in with her father and stepmother, but she feels completely alone. Even though everyone has always accepted her, no one – not her father, or stepmother, or even her best friend – understands what it’s like to have to take medicine every single day, to be so afraid of getting sick, and to miss her mom more than she ever thought she would.

When Emmy’s dad and stepmother send her to Camp Positive, a camp for HIV-positive girls, Emmy is certain she is going to hate it. But soon she realizes that she is not so alone after all – and that sometimes letting other people in can make all the difference in the world.
Such an interesting and tough topic, one I've never read about at all.
Received:

Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen
Sara Black is tiptoeing across a fraying tightrope.

As the new eleventh grader at Anton High–the most elite public school in the country–she sticks out like an old VW bus in a parking lot full of shiny BMWs. But being the new kid also brings a certain advantageous anonymity.

In Anton High’s world of privilege, intelligence, and wealth, Sara can escape her family’s tarnished past and become whomever she wants.

And what’s the harm in telling a few little black lies when it can lead to popularity? That is, until another it girl at Anton becomes jealous of Sara’s social climbing.

With her balance evaporating, one small push could bring Sara crashing down.
Received from the publisher. :) I love private school books!
So yeah, not a huge week in books for me. I'm excited for the three I did get this week though. And I'm hoping to buy some books tomorrow too... :D But those will be on next week's IMM.
What did you all get this week?
- Alex

Saturday, October 17, 2009

So I was researching...

... for a school project of mine, and discovered that in Canada, almost half of the people are semi-illiterate, with some not being able to read at all, and will never have the chance to. They have no means of getting the teaching they need to learn. And that's in Canada! One of the developped countries- third world countries have far worse percentage rates. (Or is it not third world anymore? I don't know the politically correct term of the moment.)

It makes me thankful I'm so priviledged as to be raised in a family where education is a priority. I learned to read early on, and obviously, I've enjoyed it immensely. Reading has surpassed everything pretty much to me (besides family, friends, etc., but you know what I mean). Without being able to read... wow. Where would I be?

Where would YOU be? Since all of you must be able to read since you're reading my post, what would life be to you without being able to read? Nevermind the books we wouldn't be able to read (though important as they are). Imagine not being able to read bills so you can pay, not being able to read signs at the supermarket, not being able to read a label on a can. Without being able to read, there are so many hazards in life that you're oblivious to.

Take some time to think. Maybe donate a little money even. I'm hoping to convince my class to hold an event at the school to raise awareness.

- Alex

Friday, October 16, 2009

Review by Alex- Suspicion: A Private Novel

Sorry for the lack of solid posts lately. Hopefully things will get a bit better...

Suspicion: A Private Novel by Kate Brian

*the whole description and review may be spoilers for any previous books*
Forbidden fruit...

Reed, Noelle, and former Billings Girls Kiran and Taylor have been living it up on St. Barths over winter break. The tropical sun has melted away all the tensions of last semester, and for the first time in months, Reed is happy. She's got her best friends by her side, she has a palatial suite with an ocean view, and she's landed Upton, the most sought-after guy on the island.

Reed is falling in love.

But dating Upton makes Reed St. Barths' highest-profile guest -- and not in a good way. Upton has a dark past, and he's broken a lot of hearts. One of his exes still wants him. And she'll do whatever it takes to get Reed out of the picture.


First Impressions: I'm an avid Private reader. I'm addicted to this series, no doubt. Even did a WoW post on Suspicion. So yeah, when I saw it in Coles, I had to snatch up a copy.

The Private series is like a drug, point blank. It's absorbing and short, cutting off and making you want more. Those months waiting for the next book can be torture. And I love every minute of it.

Private's almost like a serial. (Yeah, just studying Dickens serials in English class. :P) Each installment is a continuation, each book short and leaving you aching for the next.

Brian certainly knows how to ramp up the intrigue, mystery, and suspense. Each Private novel has you sitting on the edge of your seat, or lying on the edge of your bed, as my case was, and Suspicion is no exception. The previous novel ended with a major cliffie, perhaps the biggest to date, and I started Suspicion dying to know what happened. And when you figure out who it was in the end... hoo boy.

Final Impressions: It's hard to think of each Private novel individually, because I really do think of them as a serial type. If you like the Private series, you'll surely love Suspicion. It has just as much angst, confusion, romance, and deadliness to keep you going. It does get awfully crazy and far-fetched at some parts, but that just adds to the fun.

Add to Shelf: Big yes from me! I collect all of them religiously. They're all really thin, but only paperback so pretty worthwhile.

Note This: Honestly drawing a blank. There are scandals galore, set on the ritzy backdrop of a beautiful beach. And deserted island... ;)












 
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