Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anatomy of a Boyfriend by: Daria Snadowsky

Senior year for Dominique Baylor should be all about getting into the premed program at Stanford. It should not be all about a boy named Wes with amazing blue eyes. But it is. Along the way, Dom learns a lot about friendship, love, sex, loss, mistakes and - naturally - medicine.

Total: Four stars.

Hailed as this generation’s Forever…, Daria Snadowsky’s debut novel won’t let down readers looking for a new twist on the ‘first love’ classic - a smart, level-headed girl experiencing romance.

Over all, I thought this was a very… (I’m searching for an interesting adjective, but I can’t come up with one!) smart book. It’s interesting to read about love and sex in the frank point of view of a teenage girl who tries to use her head but is usually driven by her big heart.

My favourite part of this novel, hands down, was the main character, Dominique. Her voice is so relatable and it’s great to see a positive role model who’s not a complete prude. The background characters are fairly well-developed - I could’ve used a tad more on the stereotypical “slutty best friend,” Amy - who defies stereotypes enough to be interesting.

Although the twist at the end is easy to predict, it will still come as a surprise to some readers, if only because it’s so easy to get lost in Dominique’s world.

I’d recommend this, but I should note that it yields similar warnings as Judy Blume’s standout Forever… and other such books.

Anatomy of a Boyfriend is availible in paperback September 23rd, 2008.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shopping Spree (For Books, Naturally)

What I got on my latest trip to the bookstore. Hopefully, I'll have these titles up on LibraryThing sometime soon!

(All the descriptions are from the back covers, and therefore, do not belong to me.)

1. Keeping The Moon by: Sarah Dessen

2. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by: James Patterson

3. Lush by: Natasha Friend

Have you guys read any of these? I'm a huge fan of both Sarah Dessen but I haven't read her earlier works (for the record, This Lullaby is definitely her best) and I love Patterson's Alex Cross series, but I haven't read any of his teen lit. As for Lush, it's supposedly amazing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Teaser Tuesday (On a Thursday)

I recently discovered this great blog on Wordpress and thought it would be fun to share with you. I'm currently reading Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky and here is a short description of what Teaser Tuesday entails...

-Grab your current read.
-Let the book fall open to a random page.
-Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
-You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

From Daria Snadowsky's 'Anatomy of a Boyfriend'...

1. Wincing at the hokey pick-up line, I mumble, "Hey," without bothering to see who the guy is.

2. Amy says Wes's timidity is probably a direct result of his never being able to get settled in any one place, and she suggests I take the lead and start inserting provocative lines like, "Can you hold on, Wes? I have to take my panties out of the dryer."

Breaking Dawn by: Stephenie Meyer

Total: Two and a half stars.

(This review is spoiler-free!)

It would be the understatement of the century to say that the latest instalment of Meyer’s mega-popular teen vampire series, Twilight, is the perfect ending. It’s not.

I’ll admit that I didn’t come into Breaking Dawn one hundred percent spoiler- or review-free. I’d read tons of reviews for this book, some of them ardently liking or loving it, but most of them despising it.

That being said, this book was not awful.

The fourth and final novel finds Bella Swan with the same old problems as before - marriage, sex (although the word itself is used only once or twice), friendship and vampirism.

If the term "jumped the shark" was applied to books, it would fit BD perfectly. Stephenie Meyer took a great thing with a giant fanbase and threw all her previous works out the window. It was almost like this book was a parody - I'm kind of expecting an update on her blog to say "Whoops. Forgot to tell you guys - Breaking Dawn was just a prank! The real book is coming out next year!" or something.

Low on characterization, heavy on descriptions. If I hear the words "glorious," "angelic," or "godlike" one more time, someone's gonna pay. For a book that is supposed to be teaching the teenage generation good morals, it sure is shallow.

Bella, especially. She seems to care far too much about appearances one paragraph, while degrading her own looks and personality the next.

The background characters are given their chance to shine (i.e. Alice, Rosalie, Seth, Leah...) but none of them are further expanded upon.

All in all?

This was a big letdown, and, if this is any indicator as to what's to come, I won't be purchasing Midnight Sun or any other Twilight-related novel.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shopping Spree (albeit a small one)

What I got during my shopping trip with the Vampire Diaries haters.

1. Breaking Dawn by: Stephenie Meyer
2. Sucks to be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe) by: Kimberly Pauley
3. All Q, No A: More Tales of a 10th-Grade Social Climber by: Lauren Mechling and Laura Moser.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ambition by: Kate Brian

Total: Three stars.

Just when Reed Brennan seems to have finally settled into her position as the president of the exclusive girls’ dorm, Billings, on the soil of the even more exclusive private boarding school, Easton Academy, a few wrong decisions send her reeling and wishing she could go back in time.

The seventh novel in the ‘Private’ series opens with the spoiled Billings Girls afraid of losing their one true home. That’s right - their dorm.

This instalment in the popular mystery/drama/romance series won’t let down any of the die-hard fans or even those who’ve only picked up a couple of the books. It definitely doesn’t work as a stand-alone because Reed spends much of the novel fretting and pouting about past relationships - most notably her ex-boyfriend, Josh Hollis.

It's worth mentioning that out of the blue Reed is getting hit on and asked out in every chapter. At first it's kind of funny, but her inner dialogue only seems to point out their flaws and lust after other guys. I was reminded of Bella in Twilight and all her would-be suitors. It was near impossible for me to feel any sympathy for the girl when she actually thought this about another guy while on a date with someone who was described (by her, no less) as a "gorgeous Italian maybe-prince":

Why haven't you called? What the hell happened that night? Why did you get back together with Noelle? When? And why do you have to be So. Effing. Hot?

Everyone who would like to read this book - which is written in an interesting first-person that is welcomingly bare when it comes to label name-dropping - should at least pick up the preceding story, Legacy, beforehand. It's heavier on character development and explains Reed’s actions and thoughts better.

Bad Book-Buying Behaviour?

On my latest trip to the local bookstore, after a quick stop by the magazine section to gape at Keira Knightley’s awful hair on the September cover of Vogue, I made my way over to the relatively (and unfairly) small YA section.

I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to get - I usually do - but my plans seemed to be put on pause when a couple of YA-haters were snickering and voicing their opinions all too loudly. (Particularly in regards to the covers of L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries and the content of Erin Haft's Pool Boys.)

Maybe I'm just aging myself here, but I think that acting this way in an all-too-public bookstore is horrible. It made me not want to shop around them and it can't have been any good for business.

Have you had similar experiences?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by: Jessica Anya Blau

Total: Four and a half stars.

(I'm just going to use the trailer instead of the back cover description, m'kay?)

First off, I’d just really like to say that this was not what I was expecting at all. From the back, title and cover design, I sort of assumed it was a Sisterhood of the Travelling-esque tale of friendship. I was wrong.

Although not told in a first person perspective, I still felt like it was really possible to feel Jamie’s raw emotion through the author’s writing. It has an interesting setting for a YA; a well-to-do neighbourhood in California, circa the mid-seventies.

Jamie lives in a gorgeous mansion-like, Spanish-style home with her hippie parents, Allen and Betty, and her sister, Renee, who completely rejects the lifestyle in which they live. Religion is a major theme within the book, and some religious prejudices - as well as racial ones - are presented, but in such a way that it makes the characters just seem naïve.

I wish the background characters were developed a little more. It was harder to relate to Renee, even though her beliefs about the hippie life were relatively well-founded, because she seems to float around without doing much. She doesn’t get many plot points and I wish the author had focused on her a little bit more, rather than making her come off so preachy and whiny.

My only other gripe is that the blurbs on the back of the novel and on Jessica Blau’s website made it seem like this book was “hilarious,” “funny,” and “humour[ous.]” It wasn’t. It was undeniably a story about disappointments, growing up, heartbreak, frustration and sadness - albeit a supremely good one.

Other than that, this novel was completely amazing. Especially for a debut, when it’s common for YA authors to try and stick a whole bunch of ideas in at once. Jessica Blau kept a nice, even pace going - although it drags at some parts - that was perfectly in tune with how a teenager (during any decade) would deal with things.

The relationships between Jamie and Renee, Jamie and her so-called “friends”, Jamie and her parents and Jamie and her older boyfriend, Flip were just spot-on. This is a story that rings true even today and I would recommend it to anyone.

Monday, August 18, 2008

WHEEE! Or: Thanks so much, Melissa DLC!

I got my sampler in the mail today.

Have you got yours?

In case you didn't, keeping checking out her blog for Blue Bloods info - which she updates fairly regularly and is chock full of name-dropping and baby antics - ( OR...

I'll post the back description. It's not much...but everything about Blue Bloods is wonderful and Melissa seems so great and her writing style is so unique and lovely and... I'll stop this now as I appear to be gushing. But it's true.

"The highly anticipated third book in the critically acclaimed Blue Bloods series.

Schuyler Van Alen's blood legacy has just been called into question - is the young vampire in fact a Blue Blood, or is it the sinister Silver Blood that runs through her veins? As controversy swirls, Schuyler is left stranded in the Force household, trapped under the same roof as her cunning nemesis, Mimi Force, and her forbidden crush, Jack Force.

When the ancient prison of a powerful demon is breached by Silver Bloods in Rio de Janerio, however, the Blue Bloods need Schuyler on their side. The stakes are high, the battle is bloody, and through it all Schuyler wrestles between duty and passion, love and freedom.

Melissa de la Cruz returns with even more glitz, glamour and vampire lore in this third installment of the series that critics are calling 'fanged and fabulous.'"

Look for more Blue Bloods-themed posts to come!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Severed Ties by: Kevin Krohn

Severed Ties is the story of a typical college girl, Nyne Harper. On the surface, her problems seem superficial: dating, constantly arguing with her father, wanting more freedom. The kinds of things any other teenager goes through. But when you peel back the layers, a whole slew of unconventional issues appear.

Nyne is also a revenge-seeking killer. Every so often her father - a character who can only be described as "colourful" - orders a hit on another member of the Stanfield family, who were responsible for killing Nyne's mother so many years ago.

Despite some minor grammatical errors scattered throughout, Krohn's obvious penchant for storytelling manages to triumph. Although I'm not very familiar with the mystery/adventure genre (particularly without YA), the twists that come in the end came as a total shock. The last chapters are where the book really shines* and they make up for the middle being a little slow.

I'm definitely checking out the next installment in this nonstop thrill ride of a series.

Total: Three and a half stars.

*I made the mistake of using the oven while reading this and completely forgot about it! Don't worry! There were no firemen involved - just some burnt pizza.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Have You Joined The Sisterhood?

Truth be told, Ann Brashares' enchanting series, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, was the first YA I ever fell in love with. It's impossible not to really, what with the fully three dimensional characters and aspects of magic sprinkled in. (Okay, though that whole Kostos-Lena thing was dragged out a little too long, but I'm willing to overlook it.)

And now, Miss Brashares is starting all over with her new series, 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows. Says Brashares' editor to Publishers Weekly, "These three girls are going off to high school and their big fear is how things will change. They’re already seeing some of the middle-school connections and friendships start to shift. It doesn’t come as easy for them—there are no magic pants in this sisterhood.”

No magic pants? I'm already a little put off, but the cover art is just gorgeous...

Another thing, Ann's editors says there are "little moments" thrown in the book for all the die-hard Sisters. Keep on the look out.

And to tide you over until January 13, '09, here's the trailer for the sequel movie starring Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Amber Tamblyn.

Shock Point by: April Henry

From the very first page of April Henry's physiological thriller, "Shock Point", I was completely hooked.

Within seconds, readers are swept into Cassie Streng's world. Although it's left unclear if this takes place in the near future or the present day, this compelling tale of prescription drugs, insane stepfathers and coming of age is brutally interesting because it feels so real. Like it could just as soon happen to you or I.

Upon coming home from school on a seemingly ordinary day, Cassie is shoved into a mysterious van. Kidnapped. Things get stranger when she realizes her own mother is watching. And not even trying to help.

After a series of failed escape attempts, Cassie is dropped off at "Peaceful Cove," (where it's anything but peaceful) like a bag of particularly rowdy garbage. Through alternating flashback chapters, we learn about Cassie's stepfather Rick using experimental drugs on teenagers - drugs that end up killing them.

While, sure, Henry's novel was impressive and a page-turner, (This one took me only a few hours to finish, but don't let the small size fool you.) there came a point when I was just like, "Oh, Cassie, please escape from this awful boot camp so you can be interesting again." Cassie was a well-developed and rounded character, but I only wish the same could be said for the background characters, especially Cassie's parents.

Rick is the straight black and white bad guy. Cassie's mom seems to be the victim, and yet she allowed her husband to ship Cassie off to what's essentially a jail! I think there's a story there.

Total: Three stars.


Even Cassie's "Streng"th can't save a book that should be finished many pages earlier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Some Updates and Other Such Very Important Matters

I've recently started Kevin Krohn's "Severed Ties, Volume One" and I have a huge pile of books that is starting to form a tumour on my chest, but I will try to zip through a couple of them and get a few reviews done by the end of the week.

Recently, read: this morning, I removed my Breaking Dawn counter. Suprisingly enough, I have managed to toe around the outlandish "Twilight Series!" and "Bella's Reading List" set-ups at local bookstores. I liked her series. Sure, it was predictable. It was also a fun look at romance and it brought millions upon millions of teenagers together without every involving alcohol, sex or the like as with Gossip Girl or it's Californian twin, The A List.

As I've been lounging around by the pool and going shopping this week, I haven't been reading so much. Forgive me! I will try very hard to get back in the game