Friday, January 29, 2010

Yes, I know you've read Twilight

But did you know that they're now releasing a Jacob Barbie/Ken/whatever doll?

Mind you, this will not be released until March 1st.

This makes me LARF, because he comes with NO SHIRT.

Talk about fan service.

Edward, of course, comes with a shirt and a jacket, because nobody wants to see what's under that, as evidenced by the New Moon film (shudder).

Also, did you know that in March, the Twilight graphic novel comes out?

This has pretty artwork.  I saw some of it like ages ago.  I'll probably read it and then review it when it comes out.  Because, you know, some of you reading this like Twilight (I know who you are; don't think you can hide it).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey

I have decided that it is time for a classic.  I first read this book at 17, and the character comes of age in this book, so I am considering it the sort of thing 'young adults' read.
I must warn you, this book has Mature Content.  As in, well . . . let me explain.  Phedre, the main character, is a courtesan in the land of Terre d'Ange.  Trained from a small child to be adept in the lover's arts, she also feels pain and pleasure as one.  So, you cut her, she gets off on that.
What makes it even more interesting is that she was chosen by the gods to be this way, and most of what we would call prostitutes are considered holy in their culture.  The myth and religion is really an interesting take in this book; there is God and Yeshua (Jesus), but there's also Yeshua's son, Elua, and all these angels, one of whom has 'relations' with strange men for money to feed Elua.
As if that's not enough to enthrall you (which it was for me), she is adopted by a man who trains her to also be a spy.  She learns multiple languages, how to pick up on information people aren't expecting her to catch, and other things.
But she also likes to sneak off to play with her gypsy friend, and kind of has a crush on the guy who adopted her . . . and then there's this one chick, Melisande Shahrizai who really gets what all she can do with Phedre in bed (or on the dinner table, whatever), and then she does some crazy stuff, and then about halfway through the book you will say, "OMFG WTF OMG OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!"
I will not tell you what happened, because that would be a spoiler, and that is bad.  We don't want that.  Let's just say there are people Phedre knows and some death and some treachery, and this all happens when she's about fifteen and that's kind of a lot for a fifteen year old prostitute.
The next book, Kushiel's Chosen,  is also fantastic, and the final in Phedre's trilogy, Kushiel's Avatar, is again, amazing.
Jacqueline Carey also followed up Phedre's story with a prince of the realm's story in traditional trilogy format in which he comes of age (and yes, there is mature content here as well):
Kushiel's Scion 
Kushiel's Justice 
Kushiel's Mercy

And now she's gone back to Terre d'Ange to tell another tale (with mature content):Naamah's Kiss is the beginning of a new series, with the next one available for preorder: Naamah's Curse.  This one is set in the same world, but features different characters and is some time after Phedre is gone.  One thing I like about Carey's books is that characters go EVERYWHERE, and end up helping people all over the world.  Their world is like ours, only more magical.  The main character in this series is Moirin, who is from Alba, and ends up on the other side of the world using her special abilities that go beyond pleasuring people (though she's pretty good at that, too).  Naamah's Kiss I also highly recommend, but read Kushiel first.  I know, it will take a while, since they're long, and there's six of them, but trust me, it is worth the time and effort.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unwind - Neal Shusterman

Since the last two books reviewed were more girl/type, I said to myself, 'What about those handsome young men who read this blog?  Surely, they would like to see something that does not involve girly romance!'

Thus, I give you Unwind.

This book is not very romantic. This book is about a dystopian future world in which parents can have their children 'unwound' at age 13, meaning, 'hey, we don't like you, we're going to donate all your body parts to people who are better than you.'
This also happens often to orphan children, and some religious families have a child as a 'tithe,' meaning that that child is their sacrifice to the greater good.

The logic behind doing this is very odd.  There was a civil war in which everyone fought over whether abortion should be legal or not, and the compromise came out to be, 'You cannot abort a baby, but if between the ages of 13 and 18 you decide your child isn't worth the effort, we can have ALL their body parts taken apart and given to other people.'  However, the child does not technically die; they are all kept alive while their parts are harvested.  Yes there is some pain killing involved, but still, it is pretty unpleasant.

Since no one can abort their babies, a lot of poor mothers who do not want their babies leave them on doorsteps, and if you find one on your doorstep, you are required by law to take it in and raise it like your own child.

This is somewhat problematic, as you will see when you read this book.

The main characters in this book are Connor and Risa, both of whom are on the run.  Risa is a ward of the state and Connor is a disappointment to his family.  Another important character is Lev, a tithe who ends up on the run with Connor and Risa even though he believes in being unwound for the greater good.  Lev causes them some problems because of this, but they all do end up crossing paths over and over again, even though Lev has a tendency to run off.

They meet lots of other Unwinds, as they are called, and their stories are all interesting and they all intertwine.  Stories about parents who have their child unwound, only to decide later that they didn't want their child unwound after all haunt the population.

It is also interesting to see how the 'compromise' of unwinding came to be, but I won't tell you that because it's a spoiler and an important one when it comes to the meaning of this book.

There is a lot of great action in this story.  It also gives you a lot to think about considering that the war was fought over abortion rights, which is a a rather controversial subject.  However, Shusterman does not get preachy about it like many authors would, and he does not go forth and make plain that he is either pro-life or pro-choice.  Instead, he makes you think about how people should deal with their differences, which is something that all of us, really, need to consider.

While some people may find this book too touchy a subject, there is a lot to be gained from it, and if you can handle the thought of being harvested for body parts, you really ought to read it because it is very rewarding and thought-provoking.

Shusterman is a pretty popular young adult author and has been nominated for some awards.  He also writes screenplays.  Another one of his most popular books is Everlost (The Skinjacker Trilogy).

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Soul To Take - Rachel Vincent

I was wary of this one, since it is the debut of Harlequin's Teen line.
Yes, Harlequin now has a teen line.
They have other books such as Intertwined (Harlequin Teen) and Elphame's Choice, but I haven't read those.  Those ones are by somewhat more famous authors (Gena Showalter and PC Cast), but this series, Soul Screamers, is the only one that looked interesting to me.
And it's actually pretty damn good.  For one, it has an original supernatural quality, in that the main character, a teenage girl named Kaylee, is a banshee.
Seriously!  A teenage banshee!  That is so freaking cool!
She doesn't know what is wrong with her for years though, because she just knows someone is going to die and then seems to have a sort of seizure, and ended up in a hospital once, and since she lives with her aunt and uncle, she's kind of lost as it is, since her mother is dead and her dad lives in Ireland, and she's in the US.
But then she meets Hot Dude, Nash.  And he says, "Guess what?  You're a banshee!  Me too!  Let us make out and solve the mystery of why all these chicks keep dying."
And then all kinds of problems break loose, though of course her relationship is going just fine, thank you, because THESE CHICKS KEEP DYING.
This makes things interesting, because Kaylee finds out she can keep people from dying by screaming a lot and working together with Nash.
Now, this is another girl type book, since this is Harlequin we're dealing with.  The second one, which I will review once I read it, My Soul to Save (Harlequin Teen), looks even more interesting, because apparently there are people who sold their souls or some kind of crazy crap like that.
I have to say, for Harlequin, the romantic elements are not that interesting.  They're pretty much dating because they're the same species.  But the concept and the action should keep you interested.
Oh, and I know the second one has a quote on the back saying it should delight Twilight fans, but try not to hold that against it.  They say that about anything these days so they can sell more.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

As You Wish - Jackson Pearce

As You Wish

 This is one of those books that you stay up late reading and finish really quickly because it is addictive.

Seriously, it was a light read, about a high school girl who summons a genie and can't figure out what to wish for, and then her relationship with the genie takes on a new level.

He is pretty cute though.

What I liked about this was the characters.  I so totally identified with Viola.  She was this lonely girl who couldn't figure out where she fit in and spent a lot of time painting.  This was me in high school exactly.  Her best friend was her ex-boyfriend Lawrence who came out, and by doing so, became pretty popular because all the girls wanted a gay friend to do whatever it is gay guys do with girls which probably involves shopping.  Viola wasn't so interested in this aspect of having a gay friend, but she was still hurt from not belonging with him when they'd been friends since they were kids.

You remember that first rejection.  It isn't much fun.  It might even still hurt.

Still, Lawrence does care about Viola, and wants her to be happy, and knows she's not.  When she summons Jinn (it was a complete accident, I swear), she isn't sure what to do, and since she spends so much time trying to figure out how to not waste her wishes, she has to end up revealing Jinn to Lawrence.

So they all end up palling around together though no one else can see Jinn unless she tells him to let people see him.  He pretty much has to do whatever she says.

Sounds hot, don't it?

Ahh, but remember this book is for ages 12 and up, so there is nothing kinky or scandalous.  Don't shy away because you are not 12, because remember I am 25 and I loved it.

So that's the basics of the book.  She ends up really liking Jinn, only he can't really be her boyfriend because he is an immortal who lives in Caliban when he's not granting wishes for mortals.

Hey, at least he doesn't want to suck her blood and kill her (I'm looking at you, Edward Cullen).

This book will most likely appeal to you more if you're a girl.  Or maybe a sensitive guy.  Or a gay guy.  But most likely if you're a girl.

I searched the internet for other reviews of this book, and found that most people who read it quite liked it.  The people who didn't however, well, let's take a look at what they said:

"I really liked the premise. It's nothing original, as Disney has already tackled the genie idea, but I liked that it's a modern replication of the idea"

Yes, this book is so much like Aladdin.  Since Princess Jasmine falls in love with the genie and all, and Aladdin is actually gay. :\

"But still...the setting here was very unoriginal. High school in all its mucky glory."

Yes, because you know, teenagers HATE reading about people in high school; they complain about it all the time.  They would much rather read about teenagers in nursing homes.  Of course.

"Darling book, but I had to bump it down to 3 stars because a cute girl in the book had to throw out the F word."

WHAT?!  Someone says the F word?!  You mean, twelve-year-olds haven't heard that one? And a cute girl said it?  Why couldn't an UGLY GIRL say it, if it had to be said?

"Jinn and Viola are supposed to be different people, but somehow, their voices just blend together so that I can't even distinguish the two characters anymore."

Yes, it is so hard to tell the difference, when one is talking about his mythical home and wondering what gives with these mortals and the other is sitting around trying to figure out who she is.  It's like the SAME THING.

"This book is terrible! The switching of views confuse me and the characters are dull. The story idea is very good,but this story is failure!"

It is FAILURE.  Who can keep up with a book that has more than one viewpoint, honestly? I mean, who even writes books with more than one viewpoint?  Like that third person omniscient style that they teach you about in school?  Nobody uses that!  People can't keep up!

"I have to admit I didn't finish it, but that's because I got halfway through and I just couldn't bare wasting any more time trying to read it." 

You couldn't bare time? You mean, you had to keep time fully clothed?  And then you still gave it three stars, even though time was not naked and you didn't finish it?

So in conclusion, I would to point out that while this book may not be everyone's style, because it's not, the people who think it is bad are not always the brightest crayons in the box.

However, Jackson Pearce is going to be writing lots more books.  Her next one will involve Little Red Riding Hood and werewolves.  Seriously.  I will review that in a few months.  And you can preorder it in the meantime: Sisters Red

She also has a website and youtube channel, featured on your right.  Check them out; she will make you laugh and stuff.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl -Barry Lyga

This book, while at times hilarious, is also heartbreaking.
Fanboy, as he is referred to considering his undying love for all things COMIC BOOK, doesn't really fit in.  Think Cameron of Going Bovine, only without the disease and talented family.
In fact, Fanboy is more of a brainy guy, yet still on the outskirts.  He hates jocks, he has one friend, and most of the time he's either ignored or beaten up.
So Fanboy's life kinda sucks hard.
However, Fanboy is rather gifted.  He's got a graphic novel he's been working on for years, he convinced a teacher that the cause of the Great Depression was solely dependent on sea turtles, and there's a girl who noticed him.
Now, Fanboy mainly pays attention to those girls (o look @ me, im pretty and dumb lol u all luv me! ) that all the guys like in high school because let's face it, when it comes to girls, no matter how smart the guy is, he is ABSOLUTELY RETARDED in high school.

Seriously, this is practically a documented fact (I base this on the fact that guys had no interest in me in high school at all even though I was pretty cute.  Really, I was.  I was just 'different.' Also the high school guys in books I read always go for the stupid annoying fake blonde cheerleader type and it irritates me to no end).

Anyway, the girl who notices him is Kyra, aka Goth Girl.  Goth Girl has got this whole anger thing going on, and tries to get Fanboy to stick up for himself, and takes a very strong interest in his graphic novel, even though she's more of a Gaiman fan than a superhero fan, and because of that thinks she's on a higher level than Fanboy (I believe many people would feel this way).  She actually sees that he's got a special genius, however 'retarded high school drooling boy' he is.

And so they become friends, in a weird way.  And then hate each other, because they're in high school, and well, you know.

And Fanboy reveals his dream of showing Comic Book Great Bendis at the comic book convention, and then he will immediately see how genius Fanboy is and get him a publishing deal.

Any of you who are familiar with this type of convention will probably see the flaw in his plan.

And then Fanboy realizes something very, very important.

"I thought high school was the end of it, the end of the bullshit cliques and the groups and the kewl kids.  But it's not.  It's just the beginning.  It's just the beginning and it only gets worse from here.  College won't be any better and after college won't be any better and I might as well finish it.  Finish it now.  There's no point.  I'll always be a loser.  I'll never have friends, real friends, friends I can keep.  No one will ever care.  My mother will have her baby and my father will ger married someday and it'll be like I was never here, and that's better for them all, it's better for them that I go now, that I leave now, it's easier that way because I'll never be anything and I'll never be anyone and I'll always be a virgin and I'll never kiss a girl even and who can blame them, I'm just a skinny, ugly freak and I don't blame them, I don't blame a single one of them."

(As I write this, my husband happens to be watching a movie about dumb high schoolers who are pretty much the idiot high school type who trick really stupid girls into flashing them, and I feel this is very significant, because they all would have hated poor Fanboy and Goth Girl, yet this is what people find entertaining because they relate to dumb people [no offense Mike, I know you're smarter than them]).

So there you have it.  Fanboy loses faith in the world and himself.

But then, he learns some things.  Things only an angry Goth Girl who screams at and flashes Comic Book Greats because they don't see Fanboy's genius can teach him.

She teaches him a lot, but after their friendship is all messed up, can he tell her anything anymore?

At this point I will mention that Barry Lyga has written a sequel, Goth Girl Rising, which will also be reviewed at some point, but please keep in mind that there's a lot of stuff I need to read and review.

Nobody really likes being a stereotype.  At first, I thought, 'hmm, maybe I should avoid stereotypes' but this book really shows the people behind the stereotypes, not just the nerds and goths, but the jocks, too.

I would highly recommend that everyone I ever went to school with, no matter which level of school it was.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Going Bovine - Libba Bray

Going Bovine - Winner of the Michael L Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.

A few years back, Libba Bray wrote the Gemma Doyle trilogy, set in Victorian England.  This was a book about upper class boarding school girls finding a magical realm while trying to come to terms with life as teenage girls in Victorian England.

This book is nothing like that.

This book is about a loser/type high schooler named Cameron.  Cameron lives in a modern America with a family that doesn't get him.  His life seems to get more and more loser/type while they pretty much rock at everything.

And then he discovers he has . . . . . .


 Uh oh. That means mad cow disease, where the prions in your brain go crazy and then you go crazy and then you die. And there is no avoiding the death part. None.

A punk angel comes down, however, and she tells him that to save his life and the entire world, he needs to find Dr X.  She gives him a bracelet which will stop the prions for a certain amount of time, and sends him off on a road trip with an asthmatic dwarf called Gonzo (Gonzo is also a bit of hypochondriac, which only adds to the fun).

So he steals a car, they head off into the great unknown, trying to find the doctor who can save the world and his brain.

This can prove problematic when people are looking for you since you have a very rare and lethal disease and belong in the hospital to live out your numbered days in abject misery.

However, somehow they manage to go across the country, stealing money, buying cars, picking up drunk frat boys, almost becoming members of a cult (but instead end up hurting everyone's happiness, the bastards), and going to a party house in Florida.  The punk angel makes frequent appearances, seeing as punk angels are the type of characters young people want to see more of, and it turns out that she and Cameron have a very interesting relationship which I assure you is explored in full in the novel.

But do they find the cure, save the world, and bring the band called The Copenhagen Interpretation (this is significant if you know your theoretical physics, which most people erm, don't [but since Libba Bray does, you know she is smart and must be a brilliant writer]) back to Earth?

Well, maybe.

"Well then?" you ask.

Shut up and go read it. Trust me.  It will make your prions dance.

Monday, January 18, 2010

HATE LIST- Jennifer Brown

I blew through this book in a haze of tears and anguish.
Valerie's boyfriend, Nick, shot up their high school. This never happened to me. I didn't have a boyfriend in high school, and no one shot anyone in the commons area. But it's happened to others.
How do you go on when the person you love takes a list of people who hurt you, shoots them, shoots you in the leg when you try to stop him, and then shoots himself?
I'm not sure I could have.
Valerie was plagued by misery at school. She and her boyfriend were picked on and harassed, called names, beat up, and so on. You know the story. It happened to me, too.
While feeling particularly sad and angry one day, she starts a list. A Hate List. On it when everyone and everything that made her life miserable. She never imagined Nick would take it so far.
She never imagined she'd be the one who stopped him.
She never imagined that shortly after Christy broke her mp3 player, she'd be trying to stop the bleeding in Christy's stomach from a bullet in Nick's gun. She just thought Nick was going to tell her off. She didn't know he was going to shoot her.
Nick was her Romeo. Nick was her solace through high school pain and an unpleasant home life. He's the one who told her that even though most of the time they were losers, 'we all get to be winners sometime.'
And now he was gone.
How do you go on when everyone blames you for what happened?
Ginny's face was never the same again. 'Being pretty isn't everything, but sometimes being ugly is.' I know that feeling.
Had she lost everything? Could she end it herself?
Questions pour out of this book like tear drops.
People are people, in all their ragged, selfish, cruel, beautiful glory. You can find part of yourself in this book.
All you have to do is read it.

Thirteen Reasons Why- Jay Asher

The premise of this book is basically:
1. Hannah Baker killed herself
2. There are thirteen reasons why she did that.
3. If you received these tapes, then you’re one of them.

On this happy note, we continue Clay Jenson’s story. “What did I do? I liked her, I wanted to date her.’ So he listens to the tapes.
And he finds out that the people he knows are pretty much all shitheads.
They made out that Hannah was a skank. That she was cheap and easy, and free game for anyone. “Best ass in the freshman year.’
But that wasn’t who she was.
Then Clay gets to his tape.
But that is a spoiler, and I don't want to ruin it for you.
There was one class they took, in which everyone writes something nice about someone and puts it in a bag for them to read later.
But one of the kids stole all the notes in her bag so that she would never be able to read them
Yeah, total jerk. I know, right?
And the rest of the tapes are basically, ‘look at what they did to me. Look at what they did to her. Look at what she did to them. And look at what she is still doing to everybody.’
And most of the people on the tapes still feel like it was her own damn fault.
Because people do that, you see; they like to blame other people for their problems. ‘If you have a problem, it is because you are inadequate and it’s your problem, not mine, not anyone else’s.’
Clay though, is a great person.
And he understood what happened.

Sometimes, if no one really reaches out, someone who can understand and actually help, then they’ll give up, but if someone actually sees what is going on, maybe, though it’s too late for Hannah Baker, she’ll still let you see how you can save someone else.

A Certain Slant of Light- Laura Whitcomb

 A Certain Slant of Light
This book has one of those plots that you think, ‘Now there is no WAY that could be bad.’

And you would be right, because this was bloody amazing, just as I expected it to be.

And the plot, you ask?

Ah, it begins with the tale of a ghost who no one can see. She follows around people and tries to be their muse, but of course they can’t see her, so she’s not sure it’s working.

Then one day, a boy looks at her.

Do not forget that no one can see her.

But James, he can, because see, he is also a ghost, only he’s inhabiting the body of a living boy whose soul is wandering outside somewhere.

And the more Helen, as the first ghost is called, is around James, the more she likes him. And the more she wants to further their relationship, though they cannot really touch.

So she finds a body to inhabit.

But this has unforeseen consequences.

It turns out that ‘Jenny’ left her body because she is the daughter of strict religious zealots who are basically killing her soul, and now she's so sad she can't stand to stay in her own body.

And James’ host, Billy, was a drug addict. He overdosed. Whoops.

And those two types of people tend to have differences.

Even though James and Helen are in love, they have to deal with all the issues that materialize through their meanderings in others’ lives.

But the big question is, why are they ghosts? And how can they move on?

Perhaps with the help of Jenny and Billy, they will find a way.

This is the kind of book that would appeal to a lot of people. The bodies Helen and James inhabit are teenagers, but Helen and James themselves are not. So even if you are not a teenager (which I am not, though I sometimes pretend to be), you can relate to this book. It actually helped me through a rough time in my life (most of my life happens to be 'a rough time,' so anything that can help is very much appreciated).