Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Review: 3 Willows

3 Willows by Ann Brashares

Total: Three and a half-ish.

{Summary From Author's Website}

The new book from Ann Brashares, the bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants:


Polly has an idea that she can't stop thinking about, one that involves changing a few things about herself. She's setting her sights on a more glamorous life, but it's going to take all of her focus. At least that way she won't have to watch her friends moving so far ahead.


Jo is spending the summer at her family's beach house, working as a bus girl and bonding with the older, cooler girls she'll see at high school come September. She didn't count on a brief fling with a cute boy changing her entire summer. Or feeling embarrassed by her middle school friends. And she didn't count on her family at all. . .


Ama is not an outdoorsy girl. She wanted to be at an academic camp, doing research in an air-conditioned library, earning A's. Instead her summer scholarship lands her on a wilderness trip full of flirting teenagers, blisters, impossible hiking trails, and a sad lack of hair products.

It is a new summer. And a new sisterhood. Come grow with them.

Behind The Grade:

As a girl who devoured the Sisterhood series as quickly as they came out, I expected to fall head-over-heels in love with the new girls. Sure, my beloved Bridget, Lena, Carmen and Tibby wouldn't be returning, for this spin-off-y thing, but I thought Brashares' way with words would carry this novel and make me fall in love again.

I was wrong.

Wow, that sounded harsh! It's not that I hated it, because I absolutely did not. Polly, Jo, and Ama, the new Sisterhood, are fleshed-out characters and seem like someone you might see walking down the street. That being said, they don't act like fourteen-year-olds.

The writing is way too poetic and over-thinking for a bunch of eighth-graders. It was really distracting from their typical middle school problems. The best analogy I can draw is this: 3 Willows is seriously bi-polar. At times, it tries to be nothing more than a sweet summer story for young girls and does so beautifully. However, it occasionally seems like Miss Brashares is trying to make this book into an American classic, which it is not.

Also, as the element of magic and the Pants are taken out of the Sisterhood, there isn't much to make this book stand out from others on a shelf. To me, none of the girls stand out the way Bridget, Tibby, Lena and Carmen did.

Maybe I'm just nostalgic for the original sisterhood days!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Update: Where Am I?

Wow, guys!

It feels like forever since I've been on Blogspot! In actuality, it's only been since March, but it feels like twice that, at least. I really miss you guys and I miss posting reviews even more. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things, expect a review (or two) tomorrow!

Also: zomg almost 50 followers? :/ I'm so flattered!

peace, love, and everything sweet,


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Review: Swimming With The Sharks

Long time, no blog.

So here's a shiny new review for you to sink your virtual teeth into.

Swimming with the Sharks by Debbie Reed Fischer

Total: Two stars (maybe less, but I'm feeling generous)

{Summary from Back Cover}

Remember the pact. Or else.

Five-foot-eleven. Freckled. Flat as a surfboard. Peyton Grady sees her role on the varsity cheer squad as the only thing keeping her off the social sidelines at wealthy Beachwood Preparatory Academy. It's her umbilical cord to cool - and it's constantly in danger of getting cut.

As a base, it's Peyton's duty to be stepped on - literally - by cheer queen Lexie Court. So when Lexie hatches a fierce hazing campaign against the frumpy new girl, Peyton has no choice but to support her flier. Soon the pranks become sadistically cruel, even criminal. Suddenly, Peyton has more to lose than her new-found Alpha celebrity. Will she gamble her entire future for "the good of the squad"?

Behind The Grade:

For one, Peyton is painfully boring. I mean, some of the best books are spawned from characters that are very unlikeable (Catcher in the Rye, and more recently, Prep, to name a few), but at least Holden and Lee aren't so...blah.

The book is told from her first-person perspective, so a little more characterization would've been ideal. There's a short little passage I MUST share with you.

(It's noted that the stupidly-named Von is the apple of our gal, Peyton's eye)

"We finish and the crowd goes wild, especially Von. I love him even more for that. We do a few more jumps and tumble off to stand right in front of the bleachers. I would give positively anything - my right arm or my virginity or my entire CD collection - to be standing in front of his section..."

This girl has got her priorities in order.

Also, I wish the cheerleading part was featured more prominently. Although it's supposedly a HUGE part of Peyton's life, after the first couple chapters (where a pep rally and practice occur), the actual cheering aspect is barely mentioned at all.

I'm hardly an expect on all things pom-poms, but...don't they go to games or something?

The only really interesting character in the book is the "queen of mean," Lexie. She's never developed more than the nasty cheer captain stereotype and I wish she had been. She had a lot of potential, I thought.

Overall...this book was okay. It's completely predictable and overdone. Poor girl in rich environment? Mean cheerleaders? The writing is cheesy and Peyton doesn't feel like a real person (be that a teenager/friend/daughter/etc.) I wouldn't reccomend this, but it's too boring to be OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE!!111one!

Friday, January 16, 2009

my blog is being funky...

So, um, just scroll down to find my review of Sara Zarr's "Sweethearts." Or click here. Thank you. And, uh, I guess I should use this time to personally thank the twenty-four people who follow my blog and all those who comment regularly. If you're not following All Five Stars, but would like to, check out my "Followers" sidebar.

With Love,


(P.S. Claire and Charlie from Lost say "Hello!")

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Trailer: Parties & Potions by Sarah Mlynowski

Thought I'd pop by and leave you with this book trailer for the latest book in Sarah Mlynowski's popular "Magic in Manhattan," series about a teenage witch name Rachel who's ten times sassier (can't believe I just used that word. I feel like a sixty-year-old with back pains. At least I didn't use "hip!") and more real than Sabrina ever was.

Just watch it!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Total: Four point five stars

{Summary from Fantastic Fiction}

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

Behind the Grade:

After all the "beach reads" (loathe this term, but that was the nicest I could come up with) I've been reading, picking up Sweethearts is comparable to taking a plunge into the dark, salty depths and loving every minute of it.

Even though it was in first person, which I'm not all that fond of, Zarr made me love it. Our main character, Jenna is always pretending, hiding her real self. Or is it her "former" self? When Jenna was a child, she was mercilessly teased by her peers, only making one real friend: a boy named Cameron.

Then, something happened. (I would totally tell you, because it was not what I was expecting at all, and, honestly, a little anti-climatic, but the rest of it seems to justify this and, somehow, it makes Jenna a better person.)

I love how Jenna is constantly trying to be the girl people want her to be. I think everyone feels this way, or has felt that way at one point in their lifetime or another. Especially if you're in high school, like Jenna.

Some of the minor characters were expanded upon and none of them relied on stereotypes, which I loved. Don't you just hate it when you read a book about a popular girl who is surrounded by people who fit into neat, little stereotypes? I.e. "Smart Susan," "Kind Kathy," "Sporty Sara" etc. Well, none of Jenna's friends were like that. They all had their own personalities and their relationships with Jenna differed. I always found it strange how some books made it out that someone loved or hated their friends the same way. I've found this to be completely unrealistic. It's naturally that there are some people you are closer too or not as close too. It's human nature.

ANYWAY. Back to the review.

I loved it. It was great. I thought the ending was just perfect, too. I'm sure it's no spoiler to say that Cameron and Jenna don't have a happily ever after. The only thing keeping this from another five-star review is that the pace was just too slow to start. And, really, the whole book kept that pace. Regardless, go read it!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare


Way late. I know. Sorry. I got sidetracked by shiny Poppy books. :D

Total: Four Stars

{Summary From Jacket Flap}

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries?

If Clary left the world of Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go - especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil - and also her father.

Behind The Grade:

Um. So, seriously, I shouldn't be doing this now...I have homework and whanot, but this book gave me insomnia last night so I figured it deserved a quick* post.

I wasn't quite so engrossed in this one. (You'll notice by how long the book cover sat on my sidebar.) Clary's Mary Sue-ness is epic-ly worse, but, you know what? It was fun. Her life isn't totally perfect - if it was she would have both Simon and Jace - and so what if she has magic powers and everyone's always in awe of her? I still love the books and Clary hasn't given me a migraine. Yet...

Was it just me or was the plot a lot slower? I remember loving how fast paced City of Bones was.

I usually have a pretty good memory, but, honestly? The only thing I can remember from this is, like, the very end. Can this be accredited to my cold? (I hate Canadian winters!) Or was it just not that memorable?

Moving on...

I do love the supporting cast. Alec and Isabelle, a brother-sister Shadowhunter duo, are too awesome for words. Isabelle is kind of Rosalie-y and Alec is just...I don't know. A realm all to himself.

Overall, the dialogue is often laugh-out-loud funny and the story is just as good as the first book. Hopefully, Clare's whiplash-inducing plot speed will be back in the threequel, City of Glass, which is out March 24th, 2009.