Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

  • Print Length: 317 pages
  • Publisher: MTV Books; Original edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Rating: 7/10


Shrinking Violet proved to be a pleasant surprise. By the summary, I imagined a cheesy, overly-sentimental coming of age story. Shy Girl comes out of shell. Popular, edgy Boy shows sudden interest, though he has really been equally mesmerized with her forever. Mean girl gets showed up. And the story plays out. But there is a depth to Shrinking Violet that surpasses the usual girl meets boy story line. The secret that Teresa finds herself in is comedic and insightful, her voice strong and brave. What she talks about on her radio show is inspirational and only the tiniest bit corny, and when an interesting turn of events in her reality (her school and home life is her reality, and her life behind a microphone is her fantasy) strikes, Tere's new found courage is tested. She must stick to her gut, even in times when everything and everyone is telling her to turn and crawl back into her shell. I loved the romance because it wasn't outright and it wasn't even really a romance at all until the very end, but it was every bit as fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Everything about this book had sort of an indie vibe, a little edgy even. I felt super cool to even read it. I mean, I read it almost three years ago, and the way that Gavin described Sweet T's, Tere's, really, voice was absolutely exhilarating. "Husky". I would recommend this book primarily to 12-15 yo's, but I think any age group would enjoy it. But don't watch the Disney movie Radio Rebel, which is based off Shrinking Violet. Because, well, it sort of sucks and ruined the book a bit for me. So, just don't bother with that crazy and stick to page turning.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Square Fish
Release date: May 15, 2007
Number of Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 7/10
What happens when you die? Where do you go? What do you do? Zevin provides answers to these questions in this intriguing novel, centering on the death of Liz Hall, almost 16 years old and looking forward to all that lies ahead: learning to drive, helping her best friend prepare for the prom, going to college, falling in love. Killed in a hit-and-run accident, Liz struggles to understand what has happened to her, grief-stricken at all she has lost, and incapable of seeing the benefits of the Elsewhere in which she finds herself. Refusing to participate in this new life, Liz spends her time looking longingly down at the family and friends back on Earth who go on without her. But the new environment pulls her into its own rhythms. Liz meets the grandmother she never knew, makes friends, takes a job, and falls in love as she and the other inhabitants of Elsewhere age backward one year for each year that they are there. Zevin's third-person narrative calmly, but surely guides readers through the bumpy landscape of strongly delineated characters dealing with the most difficult issue that faces all of us. A quiet book that provides much to think about and discuss.–Sharon Grover

Elsewhere is one of those books that make you say "ehh". Nothing spectacular, nothing great, really. Just ehh. For some reason I thought this was going to be Allison Noel esque, and so of course I expected the greatness that sides with Allison Noel books. It just didn't happen. The plot was ehh, the setting was ehh. And the thing is, Elsewhere had huge potential. The idea was there, but the execution wasn't surreal. Also, the setting and plot should have surpassed "ehh", because for God's sake, the setting was HEAVEN!!! The possibilities that side with thy name are endless, yet again, it was just ehh. I mean don't get me wrong- it wasn't terrible. It just wasn't all that great, either. The main character, Liz, annoyed me severely, and her romance with the dead police officer is bland and lacks excitement. I wouldn't recommend Elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interview with Lauren Oliver


YA Books:

1. Throughout Pandemonium, I was absolutely shocked at my attitude for Julian. I had thought my loyalty to Alex was solid, but I began to fall in love little by little with Julian as well! When and how did you decide to stray from the intense passion and dedication between Lena and Alex?
I don't think I strayed from it. Both Alex and Julian are very important to Lena. Alex is her first love, and that's very intense and very important, but Julian shows that there is love after loss, which is something I think is equally important to show.

2. Requiem is told from both Hana's and Lena's point of view. Will their paths intertwine throughout the book, or will it be more of a shocking revelation as with Alex in Pandemonium?
They're on separate paths for most of the book, but they do connect at some point.

3. Many times in YA books, I feel as if the best friend is just that-the best friend. They are the ones the bad guys can use for ransoms, or the wild ones the main character compares herself to longingly. But Hana has so much more depth. What was the inspiration behind the character?
I wanted to show someone who was very different then Lena, and has a very different kind of strength. I hoped to show the different reactions that young people had to the conditions they were living in. 

4. If you weren't an author and could be anything you wanted to, what would you be?
That's a hard question because I always wanted to be an author! Maybe a chef! Something creative definitely.

5. What was the craziest piece of fan mail you've ever received?
Someone once told me they'd figured out where I lived. That was kinda scary!

6. What academic path would you suggest for the aspiring and hopeful writer?
To work really hard, read as much as you can, and write every day.

7. Where were you when you had the idea for the series?
At the gym!

8. What were the very first inspirations for the raw idea for the series?
An essay by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a TV news piece about pandemics! 

9. When did you start writing?
As soon as I physically could! 

10. What were your favorite books as a kid?
Roald Dahl! I loved Matilda!

11. What was the last book that you read?
The Sense of An Ending, by Julian Barnes.

12. If you had to marry Alex or Julian, who would you marry?
Personally? Probably Julian

13. Lena has to learn to adapt to unusual situations, such as the Wilds. What is the most unusual situation you have ever found yourself in?
Oh, yikes...I can't tell you that! I've been in a bunch of weird situations. None of them involve the natural world, though. Humans are much crazier and harder to predict than animals, I find. 

14. Do you have any pets?
I just rescued a cat! He's very handsome.

15. If you had to sum Alex, Julian, and Lena's love triangle-for I assume there will be a love triangle- in Requiem in two words, what would they be?
Not exactly.... :)
You can find more information about Lauren Oliver at:

Other books you may enjoy:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Graceling by Kristen Cashore~10/10

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Graphia
Release date: September 7, 2009
Number of Pages: 480
Rating: 10/10

Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.

Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.

I'd had GRACELING sitting on my bookshelf forever. It wasn't that I didn't want to read it, it's just that I hadn't been in the mood to read a book set in the past. Like with Jodie Piccoults, I have to be in the perfect mood to read them or else I cannot fully enjoy them. It's the same for historical fiction. I had just read OF MICE AND MEN and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, so I felt like reading something magical. It went above and beyond perfection. GRACELING's characters are strong, be they the one-eyed graced King Leck, who personifies cruelty, or the fierce heroine, Katsa, both lovely and deadly. I adored the romance that played out between Katsa and charming Prince Po, especially their utter loyalty to one another. I'm getting sick of paranormal love triangles, in all their "said vamp is hot, but said wizard is vulnerable" glory, so the way that Po and Katsa gave themselves completely to the other was truly refreshing. But don't let the lack of a love triangle fool you into believing GRACELING doesn't host some steamy moments itself. Trust me, it does not lack in the steam department. Cashore has graced us with a true masterpiece, full of elegance and fire. It is a must read by any standards, and it will satisfy both boys and girls from ages 13 up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: ONYX by JLA~10/10

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release date: August 14, 2012
Number of pages: 416
Rating: 10/10

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Besides the awesome sauce we have come to expect from Jennifer L. Armentrout, I wasn't letting my hopes get to high before reading ONYX. After all, it could be struck by the second in the series curse, right? Wrong. I was blown away by ONYX. It is not only deluged with awesome sauce, but it may have even surpassed OBSIDIAN in greatness. This book is an emotional roller-coaster ride, with highs of heated passion and amusing snark, and lows of despair and loss. I'm always surprised when a paranormal book makes me cry, because even though I love them, the sceptic in me says, "No way, chica. Vampires/weres/alien romances are just not deep." Obviously, this is not the case, not by a long shot. In the case of ONYX, I feel as if it has blasted open the door for a new generation of young adult books. If Twilight's Edward and Bella started the vampire trend, then Daemon and Katy, who have south more depth and charisma than those vamps of yesterday, will start an alien invasion. And well, I think I MAY be able to tolerate some more yummy Daemon-esque glow wormy hotness. Jennifer Armentrout has done it yet again. I didn't even know it was possible to beat OBSODIAN, but ONYX is truly amazing and one of a kind. Not to mention, we really get to explore Daemon's character in depth-does that spun dirty- in a way that will hook readers even more. We see a confident side to Katy, a sensitive side to Daemon, and a web of heated emotions flying every which way between them. I also appreciate the fact that Daemon and Katy aren't the sole focus of the book. We get a look into Dawson and Bethany, Dee and Adam- I won't spoil it but I cried over something involving them-, even Ash. And though new characters are introduced as well, and we do get to see other people's stories, it isn't one of those book moments when I'm trying to remember if Bobby or Jim killed Jane, or what the darn mother's name is. No, ONYX brings us a clarity that exceeded my expectations, but in the end, not so much clarity that we aren't left begging for more. Like literally, on my knees, sobbing ugly sobs, begging for more. And looky here, we do in fact, get some more. A bonus POV from Daemon will keep me satisfied for about a week before I go crazy. Trust me, you do NOT want to miss ONYX. It is must read by any standards, especially if you like yummy boys. Which, I'm guessing most of you do. So go buy it and read it pronto.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire


I devoured it, I admired it, I fell in love with it. However you want to put it, this book is worth reading by any standards. Unlike many of its genre, Beautiful Disaster strayed onto its own path, delving in to topics I hadn't seen displayed that way before. Whether displayed as glitz and glam or as an intense, gritty world, Las Vegas has never been portrayed like this. From the point of view of Pigeon-you'll get it once you read it-, we are allowed to see the side hidden in the undercurrent, flowing beneath the intense waves of the sequins and cards.And then there's Travis. He is exactly what Pigeon sought to avoid when she left that world-he was a mess, complete with the bad boy attitude and tats. So why is it that she feels so utterly, totally, and completely compelled to this boy? That is part of the books charm. We always root for the bad boy, and Travis is the epitome of devilish. And we absolutely love him. We fall for him with Abby, or Pigeon, and we feel for Travis as well when things don't go as he hoped. This book has been read by me again and again, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Winner of Endlessly: Denise

Congrats to Denise! You won a copy of Endlessly by Kiersten White! Please email me your shipping details at