Friday, July 31, 2009

Review by Alex- Brutal

Brutal by Michael Harmon
With her martyr-doctor mother gone to save lives in some South American country, Poe Holly suddenly finds herself on the suburban doorstep of the father she never knew, who also happens to be a counselor at her new high school. She misses Los Angeles. She misses the guys in her punk band. Weirdly, she even misses the shouting matches she used to have with her mom.

But Poe manages to find a few friends: Theo, the cute guy in the anarchy T-shirt, and Velveeta, her oddly likeable neighbor-and a born victim who's the butt of every prank at Benders High. But when the pranks turn deadly at the hands of invincible football star Colby Morris, Poe knows she's got to fix the system and take down the hero.

With insightfulness, spot-on dialogue, and a swiftly paced plot, Michael Harmon tells the story of a displaced girl grappling with a truly dangerous bully.

I had this book for ages but probably wouldn't have read it, if not for The Epic Rat's review for this book. And I'm so glad I did read Brutal. So thanks for the review! :)

Poe feels spurned when her mother sets her on a plane to go live with the dad she's never met. Poe is sarcastic and witty, cutting and strong. She sees the wrongness in the school- that the school preaches equality, but that's never true. Teachers and adults turn a blind eye on the bullying, the fact that the athletes etc. have more rights and privileges than the other students. Poe sees all that- and she strives to change it. She fights, verbally, for a lot of different things. She fights just because she can. She fights to help Velveeta, a messed up boy being physically harassed by the big popular athletes. She fights against any prejudices anyone has against her.

All of the secondary characters are also wonderful, interesting, and unique. Theo speaks in metaphors a lot of the time, and actually, is hard to understand at times. I pride myself on being intelligent, but it took a real brain workout at times to sift through all that he talked of. He dislikes the school hierarchy also, but doesn't believe he can do much until Poe comes around. Velveeta is a very strange boy that has many problems. Poe's dad is the school counsellor, and therefore speaks very coldly and clipped. Colby, the school bully, is a mean and vicious boy. Anna, cheerleader and head soloist in the amazing school choir, is probably my favourite character. She seems like a typical annoying cheerleader, but she has a good heart and will stand up when needed.

The dialogue is hilarious. The humor is perfect and quirky. In some scenes, I could feel Poe's anger (she yells and swears a lot) bounce off the walls. The atmosphere would vibrate with Poe's intensity. Then there were scenes that were quite cute- I loved the relationship between Poe and Theo. Some scenes, I didn't really know what to make of. Mostly, those scenes were with Velveeta, who I honestly couldn't understand. But what the different scenes all had in common, was that they were all well done.

Brutal comments on many of the social aspects of life in a small, closed-minded town. While Poe sets out to change the ways of the school, in the process, she also changes. She has to realize things about herself.

Actually, in some ways, Brutal seemed like the small-town version of Genesis. There's a lot of discussions about the deeper things in life. A different type of deep in Brutal than in Genesis, but I feel it's deep all the same.

Overall, great great read. I recommend it. It's quirky, it's powerful, and it gets across the message. Great, fun characters in a book that reads quickly. It packs quite the punch for being only a little more than 200 pages.

The ABCs of me

We were tagged by The Collegiate Bookworm. Lauren is sadly not here, but maybe she'll do this meme when she comes back. Who knows. This passes the time though, so here goes.

The Rules:

- Link to the person who tagged you
- Share your ABCs
- Tag three people at the end by linking to their blogs
- Let the three tagged people know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
- Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag.

The ABCs of me, Alex

Available or single?

Best Friend?
None. I have lots of close and not so close friends, but not one true bestbestbest friend.

Cake or Pie?
Both! :) I tend to prefer cake over pie though, since cake is more sugary to me.

Drink of choice?
Juice, water, hot chocolate.

Essential item for every day use?

Computer. Books. Cellphone. Ipod.

Favorite color?

Purple! I love purple and have since I was a child.


As in do I use Google? Yes. It's pretty much the only search engine I use.


Ottawa, ON.

Anything sweet. Chocolate, candy, all junk food. :P

January or February?

Ummm. January I guess? No wait, no no. February. January I have exams at the end. Ick. So February, when the new semester starts.

Kids and their names?

I don't have any kids. I guess though if I did in the future... Actually, I have no idea. I really like gem/stone names like Emerald and Diamond, but I'd never actually name my child that. Frankly, I haven't given baby names much of a thought.

Life is incomplete without...?

My friends and family. The Internet+computer. Books. Sound + sight.

Marriage date?
I haven't even met The One. XD It's weird saying The One. My marriage date is somewhere long off in the future.

Number of siblings?

2. I'm the oldest but for some reason am not the boss. That would be the littlest one at age four.

Oranges or apples?

Apples. I used to be allergic to apples actually. They made my throat and tongue itch and I couldn't have them for a couple years which was horrible. I love oranges too though. Apples more.

Phobias and fears?

Mmm. None that are really distinct I guess. I don't like needles or bugs but that's boring. And it's not really a fear, more I just don't like them. Fear of death? Fear of time.

Quote for the day?

I couldn't think of a good one. So I googled "quote of the day" and picked a random quote. Here you go:
The vitality of thougth is an adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them.- Alfred North Whitehand

Reason to smile?
Being alive? Being healthy and in a good life. Having a great family and friends. Being able to be cheesy like this.


Summer- there is no school. Except this summer for me has been all terrible weather. Rain and rain and more rain.

Tag 3 people?

Unknown fact about me?

Well, it's well known in RL, but I have allergies. Anaphylaxis to all peanuts, nuts, and eggs. I carry an epipen. It's not very fun. Nor exciting. It means I have to check ingredients and can't eat a lot of baked goods.

Vegatable you hate?

Hmmm. I don't really hate many veggies. I don't like olives. I used to dislike tomatoes but now find the edible enough. Can't really think of a vegetable I hate though.

Worst habit?

Too many to name? Naah not that bad. I'm a procrastinator, a rambler, an excessive eater (although I manage to avoid obesity somehow) and I pretend to be way cooler than I am. :P I tend to be on the computer and stay inside too much for my own good. I don't always brush my teeth in the morning. I'm forgetful and don't listen well (or I pretend to not hear my dad telling me to do the dishes. XD)

Xrays you've had?

... Um. I don't know if I've had any. I've never broken or sprained anything, thankfully. I did hurt my thumb a couple years back and my mom panicked and took me to CHEO. I might have been x-rayed then. Oh, nothing was wrong with my thumb. A little bruised, that's all.

Your fave food?

Noodles. Hands down. I can eat noodles every meal, every day.

Zodiac sign?
Virgo! I'm a september baby.

And so this meme ends. It was
fun while it lasted. :)

- Alex

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A random little story to soothe my restless soul (and content my bored mind)

Need is sitting on the computer desk. My four year old sister comes and crawls onto my lap. She spots the book. And then suddenly asks:

"Why is there no eyes?"

She is indeed wondering why the model's head is cut off so only the lips and down are shown. I start to laugh. I ask,

"You don't like the cover of the book? Because there are no eyes?"

She shakes her head. She doesn't like it.

"And what are those black squiggly things at the bottom?"

Of course, she's talking about the tree branches. I cannot help but giggle and snort at that. I try to explain that they're trees, but she doesn't seem to interested in my explanation. Instead, she spots a little stuffed mouse laying on the table and proceeds to play with it.

Ah, to be four again. Everything is so simple and uncomplicated. Sidetracked easily, yes. But you can also get away with almost anything because you're just too darn cute. I can't resist my sister. Especially when she snuggles in against me. Okay, say it with me now, "Aaaw!". Right, right?

This post originates from my brain and complete and utter boredom. I'm almost done Need now, but I don't currently feel like reading it. I'll expound on that later when I post my review, which will probably be some time during the weekend. There is no point to this post. I just felt like doing something, and posting makes me feel semi-productive. I'd feel double-productive if I actually got up and cleaned my room or something, but I'm too lazy for that. Instead, I content myself with posting random nothings on this blog. It is slightly book related, this post, isn't it?

Oh. I have an idea. To give this post some actual substance, I'll ask you all a question: Hate the no eyes/cut off face look or like it?

Personally, I like it. My sister doesn't. Let's see which side wins.

- Alex

Review by Alex- Sophomore Switch

Sophomore Switch by Abby Mcdonald
Take an administrative snafu, a bad breakup, and what shall heretofore be known as "The Hot-Tub Incident," and you’ve got two unprepared sophomores on a semester abroad.

For American party girl Tasha, an escape to Oxford may be a chance to ditch her fame as a tabloid temptress, but wading Uggs-deep in feminist theory is not her idea of a break.

Meanwhile, the British half of the exchange, studious Emily, nurses an aching heart amid the bikinis and beer pong of U.C. Santa Barbara. Soon desperation has the girls texting each other tips — on fitting in, finding love, and figuring out who they really are.

With an anthropologist’s eye for detail and a true ear for teen-speak, exciting new novelist Abby McDonald has crafted a funny, fast-paced, poignant look at survival, sisterhood, and the surprising ways we discover our true selves.

Sophomore Switch is very cute. It's light, it's funny. It's what the cover shows you and exactly what to expect. It is a fast-paced book with slightly heavier tones.

There is two different main characters each with their own story that then intertwine. Tasha is mostly at university in California for the parties. When she parties a little too hard and is filmed doing some pretty embarassing stuff with a big celebrity, the whole of America tears her apart. Her family is ashamed and so she escapes by getting out of the country, to Britain, on an exchange program of 3 months. When Emily's boyfriend dumps her for being too boring and stiff, she attempts to be spontaneous by doing an exchange program.

I really liked Tasha. She starts off quite wild, a party girl. She's used to having a lot of friends and partying. So at uptight Oxford, she doesn't really fit it. She doesn't know exactly what she wants, but she helps people in need, and she stands up for what's right. Sure, she makes mistakes, but she's got a good heart.

Emily isn't really that original. She's the uber-organized, not a hair out of place kind of girl. She's got her whole life planned out, with the help of her parents. She's in Oxford, she'll get a summer intern job, and she'll go off and become a lawyer. But then her boyfriend dumps her- gaaasp. Emily, bent on proving she's not actually boring, goes to California to loosen up.

The two obviously have a tough time at first fitting in. So then they start corresponding by email. They make little lits and tips to help each other fit in better. For Tasha, this means becoming preppy and dressing a lot different. Emily must go shopping, get manicures, party, wear mostly thight polos and short skirts. I don't really like the idea of compromising your wardrobe to fit in. I find that stupid and I wouldn't do it. But I guess... the two girls are desperate and incredibly lonely.

Emily's story line is boring. I found it mostly just filler. Tasha's story is putting the emphasis on feminism and giving the deeper tones. Hers was more original. Emily's life was pretty average, and wasn't all that interesting to read about. It was Tasha that I became invested in and it was Tasha who I rooted for. It's not to say I dislike Emily, but it's Tasha who made the story for me.

Overall, Sophomore Switch is very sweet to read. It's fast and filled, with lots of different characters and relationships. It shows the hardships of two girls struggling in different areas of university. The writing doesn't stand out, but it's smooth and easy to read. Abby Mcdonald is only 24, so the tone and voice is fresh, fun, and sounds young.

Thursday Thunks (3)

So sadly, Lauren's away and this will be a one person TT. :( I know, not quite as fun, but please, bear with me. Lauren may edit in or something when she gets back, but that won't be for a while, so it's doubtful. Anyway, without further ado, here's this week's Thursday Thunks!

1. You are in an enclosed space with a group of friends. Elevator, auto, small room, etc.. You fart and it really stinks. Do you take credit for it or do you play along with the questioning of who did it?
Alex: I play along with questioning. I'm not the sort of person to fart and be proud of it...

2. You are locked in a room sitting at a desk with just a piece of paper and a purple crayon. What do you draw?
Alex: Ooh purple. :) My favourite colour. I'd draw anything with any colour. The colour doesn't stop me. I tend to doodle and draw faces and heads of people, so that's what I'd draw. I purple person head. XD

3. Do you ever pee in the shower?
Alex: Eeerm... no... -shifty eyes- Kidding! I don't. I pee before going into the shower.

4. Have you bought, sold or got rid of something on Craigslist?
Alex: Well, seeing how I have no idea what or who Craigslist is, the answer is indeed, a big no.

5. You are in a convenience store. In the line in front of you is a drunk guy trying to purchase more alcohol. The cashier tells him they cannot sell it to him because he is obviously already intoxicated. He gets belligerent. The cashier is scared. What do you do?
Alex: I don't get involved. Sorry cashier. I wouldn't be a huge help anyway. I have no experience dealing with drunks, and well... I wouldn't be able to do anything. I tend to suck at calming people down.

6. While shopping for produce, do you "sample" before you buy (i.e. grapes)?
Alex: As in just taking a grape and eating it at the store? No, I don't. Grapes are still dirty then! You have to wash them first. I do go around stores looking for little stands with free samples though. Costco's the best for that.

7. You are walking down the street and there is a toddler sitting on a bench by themselves in front of a store - do you just keep walking?
Alex: Aaw. It depends. Maybe I smile at the kid. If the kid responds and seems okay, I keep walking. If the kid's bawling his/her eyes out, I'll go help the poor thing.

8. Have you looked up an old friend and/or lover online?
Alex: Well, that's what Facebook is for. Stalking old childhood classmates and the like. :P

9. You are nearly in a car/auto accident. Do you freak out, follow the person who nearly caused it & talk to them or just keep going?
Alex: Well, I'm obviously a little shaken up. Maybe I yell something to a driver, say if it's their fault, but I'm not about to stop and talk to them. I just keep going.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review by Alex- Hunger

Hunger by Michael Grant
It's been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.

Three months since all the adults disappeared.


Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers.

Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It's the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.

But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.

The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.

Hunger was actually very depressing and horrifying. Gone is like that to a modest degree, but Hunger really goes much beyond. While Gone is more setting things up, Hunger ramps up the action and intrigue.

By no means does the book start slow. Hunger starts 3 months into the FAYZ, when all the adults disappeared and the wall surround them went up. That means 3 months of hundreds of kids trying to survive. Food running out, tensions rising, it gets messy. Very messy. Kids will eat pets for meat, will kill each other for mood. It's gruesome.

The Darkness, the big bad monster, is downright creepy. But in a good way. It needs to be creepy to work. It's this somewhat veiled monster, no one really understanding what it is, only that it has this huge power. Some adore it, some are afraid of it, some don't know it exists, some despise it and want to destroy it.

The narration is always in third person, the point of view switching rapidly from one character to another. There's a lot of different characters. I mean, a lot. So even though the book is roughly 600 pages, there isn't a lot of description on the characters. They all have features, they all have their wants and desires, what they strive for, their vague personality. But there isn't much detail on the characters, I don't feel that the focus is on the characters. Which is fine. Because it's really the plot that's driving the book.

The writing's good. Not bad. But not amazing. There's some bits that I found to be a bit clunky, but for the most part, it's fine. It's not memorable, the writing, nor does it stand out, but it's not meant to be the defining feature of the novel.

Some parts, I was so horrified that I couldn't even read. I'd have to put the book down. There's such a variety of different characters, which is something I really enjoy. One boy thinks very business-like, he's all about the long plan, making himself rich and prominent in the process. One girl is just trying to survive the best way she can, manipulating and being manipulated. Because of the FAYZ, everything is very desperate. It brings out a really bad side of some of the characters. For instance, one boy who was definitely troubled before hand, becomes a monster. A complete and utter monster who revels in creating pain and suffering in others. I'm not too sure I could even think of him as a person. On the other hand, there are others, young boys, who are so mislead. They almost kill a boy. Kill! Gah. Terrifying.

The sad thing is, I can imagine the world like that. It's true. I bet kids would kill each other if they become mad enough and desperate enough. It saddens me. I'm not too sure how Michael Grant writes a book like this. It's genius, of course. But to write this, for 600 pages worth of energy, all this time spent with these kids. I think I'd get sick. I mean, I love Hunger, but it can get a bit much. The things that happen are just so terrible.

Hunger is a book to really devour. Even though it's 600 pages, it goes by really quickly. I read most of it in a 4 hour long car trip. And couldn't put it down. Well, no I could put it down, but I'd always have to pick it up again to read about what would happen. I couldn't predict anything. There's so many twists and turns, so many questions, so many unknown variables, that I really could never guess what was going to happen.

Overall, I really recommend Hunger. Obviously, read Gone first. But don't be expecting a nice fuzzy read. There is nothing happy about this book. It can be depressing, but I think it's ultimately worth the experience of reading. Plus, the ending! It begs for the next installment of the series.

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Smirnoff's Daughter by Margie Gelbwasser

Once again, no cover. D: I seem to just lately pick tenners who don't have covers yet...

Publishing date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Flux
Goodreads |
Alyssa Bondar’s world is falling apart. She has just entered her sophomore year at Glenfair High, the only place to hang out is behind the CVS, Keith her cross-country crush keeps sending her mixed signals, and her best friend Lana has started the school year with large breasts and a sexy attitude–-attracting the attention of the most popular kids in the school, a group Alyssa clearly doesn’t fit into.

Alyssa’s Jewish, like most of Glenfair, but since she’s also Russian, Alyssa feels even more separated from other teens. How many other Jewish families have a New Year’s tree with ornaments? On top of all this, Alyssa’s once stable home environment has become chaotic.

Alyssa is used to alcohol accompanying every meal and event in the Russian culture. But when Alyssa’s mother loses her job, the usual drink or two changes into a full-time happy hour. While Alyssa's father uses news reports of war unrest in the Middle East as his escape from reality, Alyssa is left to pick up the pieces of her shattered family alone. As her mother’s alcoholism gets worse, Alyssa must decide how much she can and should handle before she crumbles as well.

All right, I actually kind of did pick this book for this WoW post because of the title. "Smirnoff's Daughter" makes me think of "Smurf's Daughter" which makes me think of "Smurf penis" which makes me think of How I Met Your Mother. XD Anyone else watch that show? It's hilarious.

Actually, I don't know where the title comes from. I'm trying to figure it out... But the main character's last name is Bondar, not Smirnoff. Now I want to read the book to find out. But it doesn't come out until more than a year... D:

And doesn't the description sound fabulous? Granted, I'm not into reading about religion, but I think the alcoholism negates it for me. That sounds weird. I mean to say, I want to read about alcoholism to learn about it. And she's Russian. Um, awesome much? (I'm from Canada and anything further than the US seems exotic. :P)

That little line of maybe romance has me hooked, too. "Keith her cross-country crush keeps sending her mixed signals".

Honestly, September of next year is too far away. And September of this year is too close: School. 'Nuff said. Although I want the September 09 books. Just not school... argh.

Anyway, that's mine for this week. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

- Alex

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Review by Alex- Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
It's been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents' divorce, or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Along for the Ride is a typical Sarah Dessen book. That is to say, it's brilliant. But not any more than her other previous books. As usual, her characters are wonderful and 3 dimensional. Sarah Dessen's characters are always the focus of the novel, and for good reason. Her characters are all very easy to relate to, and are all very real.

But really, everyone knows that. Everyone who's read Sarah Dessen, or even heard of her, knows her characters are awesome. The plot's usually quite slow. Maybe not slow, but definitely not fast and action packed. Each of her book has different themes and topics, although relationships are always there. In Along for the Ride, there's getting rid of stereotypes, biking, family relationships, love relationships, opening up, regaining a lost childhood, getting over losses. Probably more too, but these are the most prominent/ones that I can currently think of. :P

I especially like Auden's realization on stereotypes. That, just because a girl knows a lot about clothes and boys and the like, it doesn't mean she's a superficial or brainless. Auden's trip down to earth (so to speak, meaning she comes off her high horse after looking down at others for so long), is heartwarming. Along for the Ride is also quite smile-inducing. It's very sweet in the "Aaaw! I want to be there in that moment!" sort of way. These are the kind of characters you wish you had as best friends.

The romance was cute, but it wasn't really that much. Some books focus on the romance aspect. I found Along for the Ride focuses on all different types of relationships, especially in the family, so there was less time on the relationship between Auden and Eli. It's not a bad thing, but I'm a romance-gluten.

Also, is it insomnia when you don't sleep at night, but do in the morning? Doesn't it make you more of a night owl than an insomniac? Or a vampire. Maybe a vampire. XD

There weren't quite as many references to the other Sarah Dessen books as there were in previous ones. Or maybe I just missed them? I know one of her earlier books takes place in Colby, so there should be lots of references to that, as Along for the Ride setting's in Colby. I just haven't read that first one in a while, so don't really know. It was a bit disappointing, since honestly, I love the references. I think it's a genius way to tie all the stand alone novels together.

I'm wondering if Sarah Dessen will ever get out of this bubble. It's always the same type of book. I'm not complaining, oh, definitely not. But it would be interesting to see if her next book would actually be a paranormal romance. Or if a love interest is suddenly killed off. Just something that doesn't follow the typical pattern.

All in all, Along for the Ride does not disappoint Sarah Dessen fans. That is, those who haven't read it. I'm a tad on the late side, especially since I am a huge fan.

Monday, July 27, 2009

In My Mailbox (9)

Sorry this is a day late. You may be wondering where the posts have been, since there hasn't been any since Thursday. There is a reason for this. Lauren is still away, although she was back on Thursday-Friday for a little bit. And I was away on a weekend trip to Syracuse. Shopping! And not only did I get clothes... but also books! A girl's dream of course. XD

The Bought:

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
MOST OF MY friends now go to Pius Senior College, but my mother wouldn't allow it because she says the girls there leave with limited options and she didn't bring me up to have limitations placed upon me. If you know my mother, you'll sense there's an irony there, based on the fact that she is the Queen of the Limitation Placers in my life.

ca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what's best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian's, an all-boys' school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca's surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos-or worse.

Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother's high
spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn't yet realize that she's more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian's, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and-especially-herself.

Loved Jellicoe Road and have been looking for Saving Francesc
a for ages. So when I saw it at the Book Warehouse for 5$ (plus a 20% off) I had to pick it up. Hardcover, even! I'm excited.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It's just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Also Book Warehouse, also less than 5$, also hardcover. I've read The Book Thief before, but it's worth owning.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Love is never easy. Especially if you're PAUL. He's a sophomore at a high school like no other- and these are his friends:
INFINITE DARLENE, the homecoming queen and star quarterback.
JONI, Paul's best friend who may not be his best friend anymore.
TONY, his other best friend, who can't leave the house unless his parents think he's on a date... with a girl.
Kyle, the ex-boyfriend who won't go away.
RIP, the school bookie, who sets the odds....
And NOAH. The Boy. The one who changes everything.
Love meets love.
Confusion meets clarity.
Boy meets boy.

I've heard good things about David Levithan on other's blogs, and I really enjoyed the books he co-wrote with Rachel Cohn, so I picked up Boy Meets Boy when I saw it for so cheap.

Violet on the Runway and Violet by Design by Melissa Walker
A wallflower in the spotlight can do one of two things: wilt, or blossom... Violet Greenfield's life changes forever when a lady in giant Chanel shades tells her she could be IT, the next Kate Moss-but taller, and without the PR problems. That''s how Violet winds up with a business card in the front pocket of her jeans on her first day as a senior in high school. Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City wants to put Violet on a plane and whisk her into the world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Tall, skinny Violet, who's been P-L-A-I-N practically forever. And guess what? She's going.

I've been looking at these books for ages, never buying them. So when I found them for cheap (2$), well I had to pick them up.

Skinny byIbi Kaslik
Do you ever get hungry?
Too hungry to eat?

Holly's older sister, Giselle, is self-destructing. Haunted by her love-deprived relationship with her late father, Giselle is fighting an all-consuming battle with anorexia. As a track star, Holly struggles to keep her own life in balance while coping with the mental and physical deterioration of her beloved sister. Once a strong role model and top medical student, Giselle is spiraling out of control. And together, they are holding on for dear life.

This honest look at the special bond between sisters is told from both girl' perspectives as they narrate alternating chapters. Gritty and often wryly funny, Skinny explores family relationships, love, pain, and the hunger for acceptance that drives us all.

First saw the cover in a post somewhere. So I picked it up at Book Warehouse, read the description and decided, why not? It's too cheap to resist. :P

The Borrowed:

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.

Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

This book was big in the blogosphere a while back, so I requested it from my library. I just got it this week, and am interested in reading it. It's unlike anything I've ever read or heard of...

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

When Cammie "The Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers' plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?
Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth. . . .
I read the first two in the series a while ago and thought they were good. I'm a little older now though, so the book seems a little light for my tastes. We'll see, I may end up reading it.

After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Leigh is a high school student living with his single mom, a romance writer, in New York City. He''s a good kid--polite and well-meaning. He gets good grades and has a nice girlfriend. His senior year of high school he moves in with his father, stepmother, and stepsister in Virginia, outside of D.C. There, he meets Maia. She's a self-proclaimed trainwreck. She''s a recovering anorexic/cutter with major mother issues. But she's also smart and witty, and Leigh is drawn to her instantly.

Their young love starts off like a romance novel--full of hope, strength, and passion. But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance. For when Maia needs him the most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love.

Told with compassion and true understanding, "After the Moment" is about what happens when a young man discovers that sometimes love fails us, and that quite often, we fail love.

I've been wondering about this book for a while now. It sounds like a good contemporary romance read, right?

And that's all for me this week. :) I've got loads of books to pick up at the library that have been accumulating while I've been gone, but I'm hoping to pick them up today. They'll be on next week's IMM. How did everyone else fare?

As usual, this meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren who was influenced by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thunks (2)

1. You walk into a store and the cashier is being held up by a robber. The robber's accomplice is dead on the floor at your feet with a shotgun laying next to him. The robber does not see you, but the cashier does - what do you do?

Alex: Most likely, I run. A gun and someone's dead! If I'm for some reason feeling particularly brave, maybe I'll grab something hard and whack the robber on the head with it, knocking the robber out. I'd quite like to be a local hero actually....

Lauren: Hold him up. I definitely would.

2. We go to an ice cream shop for an ice cream cone. You say you are buying and I am going to stay in the car. You ask me what I want and I say "surprise me", what kind of ice cream cone am I going to get?

Alex: I get you vanilla. Because there is nothing wrong with vanilla and everyone likes vanilla well enough. Not much of a surprise, but live with it.

Lauren: Wow what a downer you are... Well I'd get you something that has nasty potential... chocolate cherry cheesecake anyone?

3. You have a dream that your co-worker, friend or whoever is hit by a garbage truck after they back into a ladder with a black cat on it. The next day you see that person standing by a ladder with a black cat on it and there is a garbage truck driving down the road.... what do you do?

Alex: Well, I guess it depends on my position to the person. If I'm close, I'd try to pull the person away. If I'm far, I wave my arms like a maniac screaming something nonsensical in a panic, which most likely, the person doesn't understand. In which case the person keeps standing there and gets hit by the truck. So hopefully, I'm close.

Lauren: Watch as fate unfolds.

4. What is the most money you've won on a lottery or scratch off ticket?

Alex: I'm too young to buy a lottery ticket. I believe I scratched a scratch off ticket for my dad when I was a lot younger though, and won something like 5 bucks.

Lauren: Like nothing...

5. A neighbor kid down the street comes to your door and offers to wash all of your windows outside for $10 - do you have him do it?

Alex: Of course! That's quite the deal. And it means I wouldn't have to do it. Plus my windows are looking miiighty dirty. I'd pay the kid after though, to make sure he did a good job first.

Lauren: Sure thing. Maybe it'll coincide with this mysterious black cat incident...

6. Go to Google Images. Type in the name of the last movie you saw. Post the first picture that comes up.
Alex: And there it is. Actually, it's the second picture that came up, but the first picture's link wasn't working. The picture's from I Love You, Beth Cooper, which I saw on Tuesday. It's based on a book which I believe Lauren has read, although I haven't. The movie's worth the 4 bucks I paid (since it was Cheap Tuesday) but wouldn't be worth the regular 10.50$.


You don't get a picture. You get gifs, which take forever to figure out. Good Lord that took me ages. You'd better appreciate it.


7. Your local animal shelter calls you and says there are 3 dogs that need an immediate foster home for 3 days. If you do not accept, the dogs are put down that day. Do you take them in?

Alex: My family's allergic to dogs. :( So am I. I'd probably try to find the poor dogs a home, but I wouldn't take them in myself. However, I'd most likely think the call is a prank call, in which case I'd hang up and the poor dogs would die...

Lauren: OMG YES. My doggie is adopted. She's a little cutie :) She's kindof grumpy looking here though...

8. What is the messiest room in your home?

Alex: All rooms? My house is a constant mess- Lauren can attest to this. Probably the messiest though... is any room in the basement. The craft room, my mom's sewing room, the second toy room. Those are all just stacked with all these different things that take up a whole bunch of room since my mom hates garage sales and we are all packrats.

Lauren: AHAHHAHAHA YOU HAVE NOT SEEN MESSY UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN ALEX'S HOURSE. Dear Lord. Huh well I guess mine is. Even though it isn't. My family likes to keep everything neat and I just happen to have more stuff than everyone else.

9. Have you ever been to a wedding that participated in a strange tradition that you had never heard of?

Alex: A strange tradition...? I don't know. I've been to two weddings: my aunt's and uncle's and both times I was the flowergirl. I remember those funny games the bride and groom had to play, like transferring a Starburst to the other's mouth.

Lauren: I've only been to one wedding. I was 3 :(

10. Name one sport that you just don't get.

Alex: Football. Why would anyone want to play a game so violent? And all the guys are really weirdly buff and wear tights. Um, no.

Lauren: lol I would say rugby, but I learned how to play last year. It's really weird though, I will admit.
11. What was the last email that came into your inbox about?

Alex: Well it depends on which email you're talking about. My personal email, or the aflightofminds one. My personal, it was last a American Eagle email actually. Aflightofminds was from Free Book Friday Teen.

Lauren: Yup American Eagle promotion.

12. Have you ever purchased anything from a sex shop? Extra points if you tell us what it was....

Alex: Ummm... no. What kind of questions are these?

Lauren: ... no.

13. Go back to that Google Images link... type in the last food item that you ate. Post the 2nd picture it comes up with.

Alex: Stir fry noodles. Yuuuuum. Those aren't the actual ones though, obviously.

Lauren: Cheerios. And every time I add a photo here it screws up the format so i'm just going to let you picture it. Sorry.

14. Got any bumper stickers on your vehicle? What are they?

Alex: I don't own a vehicle. Too young to drive. Although I will be able to soon... None of my parents' vehicles have bumper stickers either, actually.

Lauren: *snort* With my parents?

15. What meme question do you wish was never asked again?

Alex: Well, I've only done two memes. Buuut out of themm, I don't really know. Maybe last week's Queen's meme thing because I had no idea what it was about?

Lauren: How but that weird one about the black cat?

Reading Challenges and more update stuff

They always seem to go together. I wonder why?

For the 100+ Book Challenge, to read 100 books in 2009: I just finished it! Wherever Nina Lies is the wonderful book that ended up being my 100. Actually, I had wanted it to be Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen, but somehow I miscounted and it was the book before, making Wherever Nina Lies 100. :P Oh well. I loved WNL so it's fine. I'll still be recording my books and all, because I think it's a great idea, in the right sidebar gadget.

Lauren is still plugging her way through the challenge, but she's more than halfway now, at something like 58, and will no doubt finish the challenge. I mean, it's summer! We've got tons of time.

And the Sarah Dessen Challenge. A mini updated list:

1. Along for the Ride (Lauren AND Alex)

And that's it. :/ Gotta get working on that one. There's always so many library books to read though! Ack.

And on another note, I changed the layout again! I'm really starting to get the hang on the HTML stuff. Not really getting the hang, but I'm learning. And I actually really like it. (I'm a computer geek like that.) There's lots of great tutorials out there, which are so so helpful. I'm going to need to widen the header somehow, since it's at an awkward length. Okay, question: Keep the same banner picture but widen it, or change it to something else entirely?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday (10)

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Release date: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young
Goodreads | Amazon

Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high sch
ool. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.

I think it just sounds interesting, you know? Completely different from anything I've ever read, different from the numerous paranormal and fantasy books out. I'm assuming Sage is a transgender or something of the like. I really don't have much, or any, knowledge of such a topic, so I think it would be so great to read about.

Also, the cover is just so entrancing. I think it's really pretty. In a not so pretty way. It's an ugly pretty, let's leave it at that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Review by Alex- Wherever Nina Lies

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

Nina was beautiful, wild & adored by her younger sister, Ellie. But, one day, Nina disappeared.

2 years later, everyone has given up hope that Nina will return, but Ellie knows her sister is out there. If only Ellie had a clue where to look.

And then she gets one, in the form of a mysterious drawing. Determined to find Nina, Ellie takes off on a crazy, sexy, cross-country road trip with the only person who believes she's got a chance - her hot, adventurous new crush.

Along the way, Ellie finds a few things she wasn't planning on. Like love. Lies. And the most shocking thing of all... the truth.

First off, I'd like to ponder on the title. I think there's two different ways to look at it. It could be Wherever Nina Lies, as in, where she is lying in the ground, dead. Ellie doesn't know. Or it could be Wherever Nina Lies, as in she doesn't tell the truth. Intersting, right? I have to say, I do love the title.

Wherever Nina Lies isn't really what I expected. It was more. It's a dangerous book that can often be creepy and thrilling. I rushed through parts just to figure out what happened. And then I slowed down towards the end because I didn't want the story to be over. It's that good.

Ellie herself as the main character, I didn't find very memorable. But then, I felt like I became Ellie in a way, seeing through her eyes and feeling what she feels. When she was happy, I was happy. When she was scared out of her mind, so was I. So I really feel the the author did a good job with Ellie, if I was able to relate to her and become her.

Nina, for the most part, isn't actually real and there in the story. But it feels like she is there the whole time because Ellie feels like that. Nina is the sort of character and person one could get addicted to, the person everyone wants to be or be with. She's an artist. She's crazy and fun. She's an extraordinary character to read about. Sean is really great too, it seems. He's different, absolutely, but also romantic, handsome, and rich.

The search for Nina is spontaneous and wild. Ellie first finds a clue in her city, and Sean, the boy who she has a crush on, joins her in the road trip of a hunt. They find clues that lead to the next clue, hopefully piecing together the mystery that is Nina.

What happened to Nina isn't the only shocker in the story. Sean is mysterious and his past and involvement in the story is a surprise. Or at least, it was to me. It wasn't what I thought. The climax of the story is heart-pounding and intense and I was pretty much holding my breath for all of it. And while the truth about Sean is a surprise, it's not a complete 180 twist. It slowly creeps up on you like the worst of nightmares and the best of twists.

Wherever Nina Lies is a mystery, a cautionary tale, a romance, a story of relationships, a thriller, and much more, all rolled into one. I don't really know what else to say, but that Wherever Nina Lies is really really absorbing and amazing. I couldn't put it down. It's Lynn Weingarten's first novel also! I'll seriously be on the lookout for more books by this author. :)

I'm so close to giving Wherever Nina Lies 6 shelves. It's really so close. But the book's just not quite enough to be 6. It should be 5.5 at least though. As I said before, maybe there should be half shelves. But think of Wherever Nina Lies as 5.5 shelves instead of the 5 I give.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review by Alex- Strange Angels

Strange Angels by Lili St. Cyr

Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called athe touch. (Comes in handy when you are traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.)

Then her dad turns up dead, but still walking, and Dru knows she's next. Even worse, she's got two guys hungry for her affections, and they are not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever, or "whoever", is hunting her?

For me, Strange Angels didn't really work. It sounds really good, it has a good plot, strong characters and all, but then... nothing.

I didn't feel any real connections at all in Strange Angels. The relationships between the characters didn't feel real enough. Even some of the character traits didn't match up to the character. For example, Dru is supposedly an artist who's really good at drawing. Um, what? It's mentioned a couple times that Dru sketches and can draw really well, but it felt disjointed. I couldn't imagine Dru drawing at all. It didn't help that drawing only comes up a few times and each time it felt forced and not at all like it connected to Dru's overall character.

I also wasn't able to relate to the characters. I mean, no one is really going to feel like Dru when her dad comes back as a zombie to kill her, or when she has to fight off some werwulf. But there are other times that, if done better, I should have been able to empathize with Dru. I didn't. I felt so detached from the book and that does make me a little sad. I wish I could have gotten into it more.

The writing is so-so. It's readable, but it doesn't stand out. There are too many descriptions in the book, especially with describing the two love interests who's names I have now forgotten. (Which that in itself is quite sad, since I read the book only a couple days ago. The characters just aren't memorable enough.) The descriptions though, my god. I lost count how many times the eye colour of the two guys were described. I skimmed over a lot of the book because there are so many attempts at descriptions. There's also a lot of use of different verbs that sound really awkward. Of course it would be boring if the author only used simple verbs like "said" and "walk", but it just went too far in Strange Angels. It felt really forced. I'd bring up a few examples of verbs, but I had to return my copy to the library already. The verbs fall into the overly descriptive and trying too hard category.

And because it just really bugged me, the word "hinky" was used far too much. I hadn't heard the word before, I've never heard a teenager say it. Maybe it's just me. But using "hinky" made the book seem more dated to me, or more like a hick.

On a more positive note, the plot is interesting. The book really picked up towards the end, when a bit more is explained. In the second half or so, Dru's exceptional powers come to light, as does the actual bad guys that Dru must face.

Overall, I like the idea of the paranormal romance. A strong heroine battling against evil while also having to deal with some love interests- sounds good. While not exactly original, it's a good idea. However, the execution was poor. The writing could have been a lot better as could the characters. The plot could also have been cleaned up.

Still, if you haven't read it, you could pick it up. Don't bother buying it though- borrow Strange Angels from somewhere.

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