Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta
Summary: Francesca 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.

I really liked this book, but at the same time I was a little disappointed by it - after reading Jellicoe Road, I was sort of hoping/expecting Melina Marchetta's other books to be just as amazing, and it was really good, but it wasn't close to being in the same league as Jellicoe Road was. I think maybe if I had read this one first, then I would've liked it much more because I wouldn't have had as many expectations for it.

But anyway, I really love the way Melina Marchetta writes. I love that she writes in the present tense, I haven't read a lot of books that use that but it works and her books are the kind that make me want to grab a highlighter and highlight all of my favourite quotes in the book (something that I never do, I don't like writing in/highlighting books in any way).

Something that I loved about the book was the minor characters, they just had so much personality and they had me laughing out loud a lot, I think it was them that pushed me from just thinking the book was okay to thinking it was good because the thing with Francesca's mother being depressed, it could be a little boring at times and I would find myself wanting to skim over the parts where she was at home and find more of her friends and Will-moments.

Will, I really liked him - but one thing I didn't like was that their feelings for each other weren't all that believable if you really thought about it... liking each other? Sure. But they had barely had a conversation - it was very Edward/Bella (oh joy, Twilight references), where you just have to accept that they love each other without really knowing why.

The main character, Francesca, sometimes she was really likable but at other times you'd just want to pull her out of the book and scream at her for being an idiot (like the way she views her "friends" from her old school, and how it takes her so long to see things that are right in front of her).

Random, but heres one of my favourite quotes from the book (and it's little things like this that make me love the way Melina writes):
I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I’m sweet and placid and accomodating and loyal and non-threatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, “Frankie, you’re silly, you’re lazy, you’re talented, you’re passionate, you’re restrained, you’re blossoming, you’re contrary.”
I want to be an adjective again.
But I’m a noun.
A nothing. A nobody. A no one.

I just noticed that in this review I seem to be focusing a lot on the negatives, and yet I said I really liked it... I guess the things I didn't like about the book were just easier to figure out, but I honestly did like the book and I'm pretty sure the main reason I wasn't able to love it was because of the expectations that Jellicoe Road had set for it. :]


P.s. About the contest thing, thanks for replying. I think I will be doing a contest, I just need to figure out when.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Title: Going Too Far
Author: Jennifer Echols
Summary: All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge—and over...

I really, really liked this book - it managed to make me laugh and make me cry, the characters were really relatable and interesting... especially Meg, even though her reasons for being the way she is aren't the same as mine are, there are still parts of her that I can totally understand.

I really love Meg's honesty, it seems like she always says what she thinks instead of what she thinks you want to hear... more people should be like that.

And John is awesome, even when he's being kind of an ass, the way he does it is just so... sexy? He's one of those fictional guys that you end up wishing were real (and the thing is, guys like him are real - he was a really realistic character personality wise, I've know guys like him even if they hadn't been through what he has).

For some reason I really love characters that have major issues and are totally aware of how they ended up that way... it's like, they don't have to figure out what their problem is or how they got that way, they just have to figure out how to get better, how to fix it - and Meg and John are like that.

Plus, I love the way Jennifer Echols writes, it's never boring being inside her main characters head the way it can be with some books.

You can read the first chapter (and listen to the authors playlist for the book) here.

Oh, and for the record, I totally love the cover (admit it, you sometimes judge books by their covers too - that's what drew me in at first). :]


Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

Title: Story of a Girl
Sara Zarr
Summary: When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend - Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, The Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

I actually didn't like this book all that much (didn't hate it, but didn't like it either), I forced myself to finish it quickly because I didn't want to linger on it and wanted to move onto a better book. It was kind of disappointing, because I had high expectations for the book because of the good things I've read about it.

I can't really put my finger on exactly what it was about the book that I didn't like - maybe it was a mix of things, like the fact that I just didn't like the main character at all and most of the time her thoughts either bored me or made me wish she was real just so I could yell at her or whack her upside the head... I just couldn't bring myself to like her and when you really don't give a damn about the main character then it's kind of very difficult to like the book. And I didn't like the plot all that much either, it sounded good on the back of the book but it wasn't nearly as good to actually read about.

I didn't like the ending or the fact it focussed the story so much on some things and not on others, it really dragged on and on at certain parts (which is kind of bad considering it isn't a very long book) and it was just... I just really didn't like it.

But at the same time, even though I didn't like the book, it's one of those ones where I could sort of understand why other people might like it even if I don't - it wasn't one of those books that are so bad that I can't fathom how anyone could like it. I thought it was bad, but that's just my personal taste, I can see it's appeal for other people though.

It isn't one of the books I'd recommend someone to read, but I wouldn't say not to read it either - it's just one of those ones you'll have to read and judge for yourself, I seem to be in the extreme minority in not liking it judging by Amazon reviews.


Monday, 16 March 2009

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Summary: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing — not even a smear of blood — to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Okay, there's a lot that I could say about this book but I'll probably just end up forgetting most of it or confusing you (and myself), so I'll just start by saying that I loved it - it's one of those books that just drew me in and I could picture the whole story really clearly in my head, like with Harry Potter, the way she described the world just made it so real and I loved the characters and it made me want to write (which for me, that's one of the signs of a good book - books that inspire me to want to go finish my own stories, there aren't a lot that do that, but this did).

Clary and Jace were awesome, I read some major spoilers about the two of them that made me not want to want them to be together but it was impossible not to while reading... and now I can't wait to read the next two books in the trilogy to see what happens with them (I'm so glad I waited till now to read this book, because if I had had to wait ages for the final book it would've drove me nuts - but the last book is out this month, awesome).

I loved it, I really can't wait to read the rest of the series, there's a certain plot twist--that you'll instantly know what I mean if you read it--that I really, really want to be resolved.

I really recommend you read it, it's awesome (especially if you like Harry Potter or urban fantasy stories or the whole "forbidden" romance thing.)

And just for fun, heres a fan made trailer for the book I found on youtube (which I love because I really like that song and Alexz Johnson is awesome):


Friday, 13 March 2009

Please Stop Laughing At Me... by Jodee Blanco.

Title: Please Stop Laughing At Me...
Author: Jodee Blanco
Summary: The true story of Jodee Blanco as she went through middle and high school, being bullied and picked on constantly. The object of both emotional and physical beatings, Jodee grows into the self-doubting, hurt, second-guessing, insecure girl. Entirely relatable and informing, this amazing Novel will help parents and kids understand what bullying can truly do to a person. (Summary by Me.)

When I read this, it made me cry several times. Someone like me, who has gone through the almost-exactly-the-same bullying in the book (albeit for me it was only emotional, never physical) relates entirely to it. Often times I found Jodee thinking the exact same things I had thought in the past when being bullied.

Not only is this book relatable and informing, it's also written wonderfully. I suggest that everyone read it. I think it should actually maybe be on school reading lists.




Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell

Title: Everything Beautiful
Author: Simmone Howell
Summary: Riley Rose, atheist and bad girl, has been tricked into attending Spirit Ranch, a Christian camp. There she meets Dylan Kier, alumni camper and recent paraplegic, who arrives with a chip on his shoulder and a determination to perfect all of his bad habits. United in their personal suffering and in their irritation at their fellow campers, they turn the camp inside out as they question the meaning of belief systems, test their faith in each other, and ultimately settle a debate of the heart.

Okay, so I actually won this book a while ago (and it's signed "Dear Alanna, I wish you everything beautiful" which I think is an awesome way to sign a book, it made me smile) but I sort of avoided reading it for a while because I was worried the whole religion aspect of it would get to me (that, and my to read pile is huge) -- I don't like preachy books, especially because I'm agnostic.

This book wasn't like that at all though, the main character seems to be agnostic too, and even though religion played a part in the book and was mentioned quite a bit it didn't feel like someone was forcing their beliefs down my throat and the book was actually really good and really funny and sad at the same time. Riley is actually kind of a bad girl, and seems to march to the beat of her own drum, which is awesome and I like that she sort of accepts who she is and sometimes it'll bother her but she doesn't go to extremes to try and change just so she will fit in with everyone elses idea of who she should be.

I really loved most of the characters too, Dylan especially, he was awesome but even the other minor characters were great too. I was actually really sad when the book finished because I really wanted to know what would happen next, particularly with Riley and Dylan.

To sum up: It's really good, you should read it.


Saturday, 7 March 2009

Hush:An Irish Princess' Tale

Title: Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Summary (from Shelfari): A silent girl.
An awesome power.
Melkorka is an Irish princess, the first daughter of a magnificent kingdom -- but this all changes the day she is kidnapped and taken aboard a marauding slave ship. Trapped in a world both unfamiliar and cruel, Melkorka finds that her powerlessness gives her clarity. That she is the master of what she says. Choosing to take a vow of silence, Melkorka becomes an object of fascination to her captors. And then she realizes that any power, no matter how little, can make a difference.

This book involves old time princesses and Irishness. That was more than enough to make me want to read it while I'm in my historical fiction phase. And it was...interesting.

*Spoilers Ahead*

Set in the 900s, Melkorka and her sister are forced to run from their town to save Melkorka from a terrible fate. While running for their shelter, they're captured by a slave ship. In time, Melkorka's sister manges to escape but Melkorka is stuck there. The only thing she can do is be silent. So she doesn't talk for the entire book after being captured. I think she said something once, to a bird, but that was it. And the ending is so open-ended. I knew it was over, yet kept turning pages trying to find the actual ending or some explination. She probably won't write a sequel either.

But in all, I did enjoy it. It was a good story and I'm probably going to try to read more of her books if they might entertain me.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot

Title: The Mediator
Author: Meg Cabot
Summary: Suze Simon is starting a new life. She has just joined the rest of her family in Carmel, California. The rest of her family consists of her mother, a new step-dad and three new step-brothers. This would be hard enough if it wasn't for the fact that Suze sees dead people.

Suze is a mediator. That means she is able to see and interact with ghosts. These are people with some unfinished business. As a mediator she is to help them cross over. She came upon this talent at the age of two and has had a hard time dealing with it. Her personal record has been far from spotless as she tries to be a mediator and not look insane to the rest of the world.

Now in her new home with her new family, Suze has new challenges. One is a 150-year-old ghost named Jessie that lives in her bedroom. The other is a new ghost at her new school. This one is very angry and bent on destruction and mayhem. Suze must protect the lives of others, the lives of herself and her family, and try not to look completely crazy in her first days at school. But Suze manages to get some help from two unexpected sources.

Okay, so there are six books in the series but I figured I'd read them all and review the series as a whole instead of just one book at a time, the summary above is just for the first book.

Anyway, I really liked it, Suzannah a.k.a. Suze, is awesome... her thoughts are really funny and I really like that she makes mistakes and isn't a total Mary Sue unlike, say, Bella from the Twilight series. Plus, she's really tough, she stands up for what she believes in and kicks serious ass and she's really funny too.

Why am I even mentioning the Twilight series? Well! It kind of reminded me of Twilight in some ways (I know the Mediator series was out before Twilight) -- the good ways, not the annoying ones -- like with Jesse being all old fashioned and cute and protective of her and there not seeming to be any way for their relationship to work because he won't age while she will (although they do have more issues than that) and some of the things Jesse says really remind me of Edward. Only Jesse is way more adorable, and seriously, when he calls her "Querida" (Spanish for something like "dearest one" or "sweetheart" I think) that's just... insert happy sigh here.

I even liked the character Paul, who doesn't show up until later books, he's the sort of bad guy but not completely... even though he is kind of delusional, it's hard to completely hate him (but maybe that's just because the guy I pictured as Paul was sort of gorgeous -- I pictured him and him).

Sorry, this review isn't very good -- turns out reviewing a series as a whole instead of just book by book isn't so easy because there's so much to say, but basically, I really liked it and I really liked the way it ended as well and if you haven't already, then you should read it. :]

Just for fun, here's one of the fan made trailers for it I found on youtube (there's a lot of them):


P.s. Oh, and I made a shelfari group for this blog (link in the sidebar), mostly so I could make a shelf for all the books we've reviewed, if you have a shelfari you should join, I sent invites to all of you that are on my friends on shelfari I think. Join if you read this blog too (well, if you want to) :]


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