Sep 29, 2011

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published: March 14, 2006 by Knopf

Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

       This is a book that I've seen around for awhile, and that has never had a bad review, and that I avoided for awhile because it sounded so heavy and sad. I really enjoyed the 1st Markus Zusak book that I read not too long ago, I Am The Messenger (really really seriously enjoyed it), and I think that he just has a great voice. The Book Thief is an amazing book, but it's the kind of book that is hard to enjoy because of the subject matter. But if you've been thinking about reading it and just haven't done it yet, you should definitely pick it up and prepare for a story that's very different from most of the other books out there. (It's different in a good way!)

Why I love this book:
  • Hans- Hans is a great man. He became my favorite character the moment Liesel met him. Hans is a man of little dialogue and lots of accordion playing, yet he willingly risks his life for Max and rarely questions the enormity of that decision.
  • Rudy- There is something so wonderful about reading a story where a boy and girl can just be best friends and never question it because it's just a fact of their lives. I love Rudy's antics, his quests for food, and his constant search for a way to earn a kiss from Liesel. Although this is a story where many people die, I wasn't concerned until any time Rudy was in danger. He brings much needed humor both to Liesel and to this book.
  • Max's books- The books that Max writes and illustrates for Liesel are raw and beautiful. I loved seeing the simple drawings over the painted-over words of "Mein Kampf." The stories highlight what this book really drove home for me- words are powerful.
  • pace- This book is different partially because it takes place over such a long period of time in Liesel's life. We see her over the span of a few years while she is growing up and learning about reality and life, rather than over a few days or weeks like most of the paranormal books taking over the shelves.
Huh, what?:
  • plot- Before you get upset, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the plot. It's just that this book is so different from most. It's beautifully written and enthralling, yet it's horrible. I enjoyed it like I enjoyed the Schindler's List movie- which is to say not at all, but it is a book destined to be a classic because it deserves to be one just like Schindler's List. The only thing wrong with it is that you wish the circumstances surrounding the plot had never happened. In case I'm not explaining clearly, I loved the book but its contents are as heavy as they are amazing.
Favorite Quotes:
  • If you were being flippant about it, you'd say that all it took was a little bit of fire, really, and some human shouting to go with it. You'd say that was all Liesel Meminger needed to apprehend her second stolen book, even if it smoked in her hands. Even if it lit her ribs.        -  pg. 83
  • As she turned them, the pages were noisy, like static around the written story. "Three days, they told me...and what did I find when I woke up?" There were the erased pages of Mein Kampf, gagging, suffocating under the paint as they turned.       -  pg. 237

5 robots

This is a truly amazing book, one that everyone should read if they have the chance, and my review will never do it justice.

Acquired: Swapped for on

Sep 22, 2011

Cracked Up To Be

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Published: December 23, 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin

Perfect Parker Fadley isn't so perfect anymore. She's quit the cheerleading squad, she's dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she's failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she's playing games...but what they don't know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn't something she can say out loud. It isn't even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody-be totally alone-then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.

       So, I've been wanting to read this book since around when it came out because it sounded like I could relate a bit, trying to be perfect with school is a lot of pressure. What I found is that Parker is impossible to relate to and an obnoxious person in general. I wanted to like this book at first, but at about halfway through I was done trying to understand Parker and just wanted to know what the heck was wrong with her. That doesn't mean it wasn't a well-written book, but this was not a book I enjoyed. 

Reasons I love this book:
  • Bailey- Parker's dog is my favorite character in this book- he's the only one that Parker is ever nice not a jerk to and even then she can barely manage that. When Parker gets Bailey she starts becoming more human- if it hadn't been for this dog I'm not sure I would've seen any progress with Parker.
  • Principal Henley- she's doing the best she can in the situation, with her whole do your work and don't mess up or don't graduate policy. If more people in Parker's life were less lenient she'd probably be in a better place (parents! I don't care if she doesn't want to go to a therapist- she needs one!)
Huh, what?:
  • Parker- Parker is a major jerk to everyone she comes into contact with. She drinks and goes to school hungover when she goes at all, which doesn't make sense because the "huge horrible bad thing" she's reacting to happened the 1st time she ever got drunk. She's even a jerk to people in her head. She's obnoxious and self-centered and hard to relate to.
  • Parker and guys- Ok, so she was having sex regularly with her ex (before he was her ex of course), fine, but now she's screwed up and when a nice guy starts liking her despite her being a jerk towards him, she doesn't want an emotional connection because that would be hard so she just goes straight for sex- which I'm pretty sure she knew would be the fastest track to ending the potential relationship
  • "the huge horrible bad thing"- didn't even happen to her, it was just something she saw happen and probably couldn't have prevented (even if she were sober). She turned it into a horrible mess by choosing, that night and every day afterwards not to say anything about it, ever, to anyone.
Favorite quotes:
  • Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics...six months until graduation and no one gets a medal when they get out.             -  pg. 1
  • It figures the last thing I should say is the first thing out of my mouth. The room gets so quiet I can hear the faint sounds of the chemistry teacher shouting formulas all the way down the hall through two closed doors. Henley stops pacing and glances at Grey, and Chris looks like I've slapped him across the face.              - pg.  81

2 robots
This book was not at all for me. The overall plot of a character dealing with the personal fallout of something bad that happened at a party was done much better in Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

Acquired: Bought

Sep 17, 2011


Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
(Book 1 of the Nevermore Trilogy)
Published: August 31, 2010 by Atheneum Books

(2nd book Enshadowed is scheduled for January)

Cheerleader Isobel Lanely is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due-so unfair-on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he'd rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can't help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

       I have been reading some great reviews of this book, and while I wasn't so interested in reading about a cheerleader and goth relationship, the added Poe element was intriguing, so I picked this one up at Borders the last time I went. Ever. :( This book is packed full of suspense and romance, a great paranormal/fantasy book that doesn't fall into all of the overdone paranormal cliches. I can't do this book justice with my review. It was so enthralling that when I was skimming through it for quotes I would end up reading a couple pages again.

Reasons I love this book:
  • Isobel- this is the kind of strong heroine that is so missing in paranormal YA right now. She is so much more interesting and stronger than another Isabella you may know.  Isobel is confident and stands up for herself, she's relatable and genuine. Plus she ditches her jerk friends, which is a major plus in my book.
  • Varen- Varen is great- he's a goth loner but as soon as we're allowed to see more of him it's clear that he is caring and respectful, just a little Poe obsessed
  • plot- the premise of this book is genius. I won't detail it to make sure I don't spoil it, but if the summary catches your attention you will love this book. Plus there is no love at 1st sight. This is a slowly building romance and it's wonderful that way
  • Poe- the way the author has entwined Edgar Allan Poe and his stories into the plot is awesome- the world of Poe never becomes an afterthought and has so much to do with the story
Huh, what?:
  • ending- going in I thought this was a standalone book, which it easily could have been. It's much longer than most other YA books at over 500 pages, and it was heading toward what I thought could have been an ending, and instead bam! cliffhanger. 
  • Brad- I know a good story has to have more than 2 characters, but Isobel's "friends" were so stereotypically popular and rude. Once she ditched them I was looking forward to not having to read about them, but they kept coming up.
  • Pinfeathers- Pinfeathers is extremely interesting, especially towards the end of the book and I definitely want to see more of him, but if this turns into a love triangle I will not be ok with that. There really isn't anything to suggest that he would be a love interest, but I've been reading so many paranormal books lately and the love triangle is something they all have. I don't want this one to be like that. 
Favorite Quotes:
  • She turned to find Varen standing with his back against the wall, her own stunned expression reflected in the pair of sleek sunglasses he wore.  "Jeez, you scared me" was all she could manage while trying to kick-start her breathing again. "I've been told I have that effect," he said in that deadpan way of his.     - pg.  217-218
  • The clock's pendulum sliced through the air like a scythe, reaping the seconds. With each pass, its ornately engraved silver surface flashed a mottled version of Isobel's reflection. The pendulum passed again, revealing in the circle of silver a white face of an empty-eyed figure, one which now stood behind Isobel.      - pg.  418-419 

5 robots
This is a great book, mixing contemporary with fantasy and you should read it because there are few books like this out there.

Acquired: Bought 

Sep 9, 2011

Flash Burnout

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
Published: October 19,2009 by Houghton Mifflin

Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him; the other one needs him.
When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom. Blake’s participation in the ensuing drama opens up a world of trouble, both for him and for Marissa. He spends the next few months trying to reconcile the conflicting roles of Boyfriend and Friend. His experiences range from the comic (surviving his dad’s birth control talk) to the tragic (a harrowing after-hours visit to the morgue).
In a tangle of life and death, love and loyalty, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of himself.

       Overall this book is a very quirky and realistic look at a 15 year old guy's life. But that comes with a lot of annoying, girl-obsessed thoughts that kept me from liking this book more. Despite having a title and chapter intros about photography, that aspect of the story takes a backseat to Blake's confusion over the 2 girls in his life. 

Reasons I love this book:
  • small quirky details- The Dog Formerly Known as Prince, references to Dr. Who, the Houston mission control in Blake's head...all these details really help to make this story stand out from other contemporary books.
  • Garrett- he's a typical big brother- picking on Blake constantly just because he can, but he has Blake's back when it counts
  • Blake's mom- she's very welcoming of Marissa and her mom, tries not to pry into Marissa's life, but worries about and cares for this girl she's just met- the kind of person Marissa wants her mom to be
  • Marissa- all she wants from Blake is for him to photograph her mom, she never asks for anything else, she just tries to do her best in life and help her mom out
  • realistic- none of the characters are perfect, Blake's not a devoted boyfriend all the time, not everything is perfectly tied up- there are loose ends in life and this book reflects that

Huh, what?:
  • Shannon- I really felt like she was never given a fair chance with readers as a character. Despite being Blake's girlfriend (who he is supposedly in love with) all we get of Shannon is that she's a butt and boobs who randomly decides to make Blake's life miserable for no reason.
  • Blake's head- Blake, Blake, Blake...if this is what guys' heads are like I'm running for the hills. Just kidding. It wasn't all bad, just really confusing at times. Blake's actions never back up his feelings, especially when it comes to Shannon. He loves her but he basically ignores her and only thinks about her when he's looking at her. And all those thoughts are of course about her body.
  • Marissa's decisions- Marissa is really sweet and trying to live her life despite her mom's crazy behavior, except she sometimes gets carried away with trying to save her mom from herself and doesn't consider how worried her friends or family will be if she disappears for a few days.
  • Cappie- I'm not sure what purpose Cappie is serving in this book. She's simply an on-again, off-again girlfriend of Garrett's whose a jerk to Blake (and Garrett sometimes too). 

Favorite Quotes:
  • Houston and I concentrate all available brainpower on analyzing the selection of necklaces.    - pg.  170
  • Was it really just this morning that we snuck into the morgue? This day wins the grand prize for random.    - pg.  253

4 robots
A realistic look at life from a talented author

L.K. Madigan's blog has been taken over by her husband since she passed away earlier this year due to cancer. If you are a fan of her books and want to donate to a fund to make sure her son gets to go to college, head over there to find out more.

Acquired: Bought

Sep 3, 2011

Epic YA "Top 100" List

       I don't know the source of this list- as in where the facts came from, but I got it from iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books who traced it back to Rather Barefoot Than Bookless who in turn found it on a Swedish blog. I used Google to translate the Swedish blog and found out they are having a Joss Whedon marathon weekend! (I've recently become a Joss Whedon fangirl, which I plan to post about at some point)

       Anyways! The books I've read are in bold. So what do you think? How many have you read? What books should be on here? Which books shouldn't be on here?

  1. Alex Flinn – Beastly
  2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
  3. Ally Carter - Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
  4. Ally Condie - Matched
  5. Alyson Noel - The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
  7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  8. Ann Brashares - The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
  9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. Anthony Horowitz - Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
  12. Becca Fitzpatrick - Hush, Hush (1, 2)
  13. Brandon Mull - Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  15. Cassandra Clare - The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
  16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
  17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)  (I had no idea there were 4 of these)
  18. Christopher Paolini - Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
  19. Cinda Williams Chima - The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
  20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2) 
  21. Cornelia Funke - Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
  22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
  23. Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)  (I may have read 3 but it was a long time ago)
  24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
  25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
  26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
  27. Gail Carson Levine - Fairest
  28. Holly Black - Tithe (1, 2, 3)
  29. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)  (I loved the 2nd book, want #3 now!)
  31. James Patterson - Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why 
  33. Jeanne DuPrau - Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
  34. Jeff Kinney - Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
  37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
  38. John Green – Paper Towns
  39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
  40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
  41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
  42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
  43. Lauren Kate - Fallen (1, 2, 3)
  44. Lemony Snicket - Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
  45. Libba Bray - Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
  46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
  47. Louise Rennison - Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)  
  48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
  49. Maggie Stiefvater - The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
  50. Margaret Peterson Haddix - Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)  (I didn't know it had sequels)
  51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3) 
  52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief    (this is my current read)
  53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
  54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  55. Mary Ting – Crossroads 
  56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2) 
  57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)  (really didn't like #2 as it was all about sex)
  58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  59. Meg Cabot - The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)  (lost interest...)
  60. Meg Rosoff – How I live now
  61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
  63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
  64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
  67. Nancy Farmer - The House of the Scorpion
  68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
  69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
  71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
  72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  73. Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
  74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick; Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  77. Rick Riordan - Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks
  79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
  80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
  81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
  82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
  83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
  84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2) 
  86. Scott Westerfeld - Uglies (1, 2, 3, 4)  (I added #4 to this list, Specials counts right?)
  87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
  88. Shannon Hale - Princess Academy
  89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
  90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
  92. Stephanie Meyer – The Host    (I did not finish this book....I hated it)
  93. Stephanie Meyer - Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
  94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
  95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
  96. Suzanne Collins - Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
  97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
  99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
  100. Wendelin Van Draanen - Flipped

So that's 41 / 100  and adds up to 88 books 

Sep 2, 2011


Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Published: December 28, 2010 by Dial
(Sequel to Incarceron) 

In the dark Prison of Incarceron, the prisoners tell tales of a legendary man – Sapphique, the only inmate ever to escape. There are hundreds of tales of his exploits, but are any of them true? Did he even exist?
Attia and Keiro certainly think so, and when they hear that a crazy magician called Rix is using Sapphique’s lost Glove in his magical act, they’re determined to steal it. Meanwhile, out in the Realm, Finn is not finding being a Prince easy, and he’s tormented by doubts about his own identity.

       I enjoyed Sapphique more than Incarceron, so if you thought Incarceron was just alright you should give this one a shot. While Incarceron shifted between Finn's desperation to escape the prison and Claudia's attempt to find the prison, Sapphique brings more of the main characters together which makes their stories much more interesting. These books are light on romance and heavy on adventure and imagination. 

Reasons I love this book:
  • worldbuilding- I continue to be impressed with the descriptions of the widely varied parts of Incarceron, especially since it never seems like there's a paragraph of description - it's worked in seamlessly with the story
  • Attia- I find Attia's journey through the prison much more interesting than the drama with Finn and Keiro's life and journey in the 1st book
  • failure of Protocol- when Protocol outside the prison started to crumble I started to pay more attention to the Claudia/Finn plot. It just showed how intricate the deception of Protocol was and got me thinking on how wild it would be if all the sudden you knew that things you had physically touched weren't actually there at all and never had been
  • Sapphique- what an awesome name. Anyways, who is Sapphique? This book had me starting to think I knew, then it would throw me for a loop and I'd be convinced it was someone else. I'm still not sure I know. Will the real Sapphique be in the prison or Outside? He's real right?

Huh, what?:
  • Claudia- she's growing on me, but she is still so selfish! She wants Finn to be a prince so she can use him to end Protocol, but she doesn't want him to a prince because she doesn't trust him. In other words, she thinks Finn's life and future revolve around her.
  • capitalization- capitalizing common words is something that just bugs me in any book. It makes my brain stop reading and go now why does that word look different than usual? I get that Finn Escaped and that Protocol is bad, but those things would be just as significant in lowercase
  • Steel Wolves- I don't really see where they fit in. All they seem to do is threaten people who are actually on their side while the Queen just goes along with her business
  • Jared- uh, did I miss something in the 1st book? I totally thought Jared was wise old Alec Guiness Obi Wan, but then it said he was in his 30s, so he might actually be cute young Ewan McGregor Obi Wan? 
Which is it? I'm so confused!
Favorite quotes:
  • Lightning spat; from overhead the low, heavy grumble of thunder rolled down the sky. For a moment Finn knew it was the voice of Incarceron he heard, its terrible, cruel mockery, knew he had never Escaped at all.      - pg.  191
  • They had become ghosts, Claudia thought, or shadows. Cloaked in black like outlaws, they fled the Court, and behind them there would be uproar, the Queen furious, the Pretender vengeful, the servants panicked, the army being ordered out.     - pg.  310
4 robots
Great sequel with adventure, suspense, and interesting characters

Acquired: Bought