Monday, October 19, 2009

The Last Apprentice: Clash of the Demons by Joseph Delaney

Title: Clash of the Demons
Author: Joseph Delaney
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
5/5 Stars

Let me just put it out there that Joseph Delaney is one of the only authors who can tear me away from school work, keep me up until 2 am and still leave me completely satisfied with what I’ve just done. Last night, when I should’ve been studying for midterms or sleeping, I was reading The Last Apprentice: Clash of the Demons until I had read through every last word.

This is the sixth book in Joseph Delaney’s Last Apprentice series (or Spook’s Apprentice as it’s known abroad). In this volume, Tom Ward’s mam returns from her homeland of Greece to beg for Tom and the Spook’s help to rid Greece of an ancient evil called Ordeen. Ordeen is an old god and is stongly back by the Fiend, the devil incarnate. Tom and the Spook fear there is no hope in beating Ordeen with the Fiend on her side, but they set out for Greece to face creatures of the dark that they’ve never encountered in the County before.

What I love most about this series is how it has become progressively more psychological. The further we get into Tom’s story, the more internal conflict we see. He has to make some really difficult choices when it comes to his family, his apprenticeship and his own fate.

As always, the drawings throughout are spectacular. They really add to the scary elements of the book. This one is definitely perfect for the Halloween season if you’re looking for something creepy to read. Personally, I would read this one any time of year. Just give a stressful school situation, a cup of hot chocolate and Joseph Delaney, and I’m in for one heck of a night.

ISBN: 978-0061344626
Price: $17.00, hardcover
Pages: 416

Thursday, October 15, 2009

BTT: Library Weeding

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

The last time I weeded out my library was probably two years ago. Since starting college, I really haven't wanted to et rid of anything. If it's a textbook that I know I'll never use again, I sell it to the university bookstore. If I liked the book, however, I keep it. Lately, I;ve been really hesitant to get rid of books. I want to build my library into something HUGE that my kids will take books from and that I can revisit again and again. I also think it would be really beneficial to my [future] job as an editor to have as many references around as possible.

When I do get rid of books, I always donate them to Goodwill. I think it's nice to pass them on to someone who can't go to Barnes and Noble every time they get the urge. I think in the future, however, I'd like to give them to some kind of literacy organization. I think books should be in the hands of kids and teens with no charge to them. Books offer such an awesome alternative to the more violent video games and movies that are out today. I wish every kid could have the relationship I've had with books.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bookworm Update

I am such a sad sack. I haven't finished a book in ages, I never get to read my own books now that I'm back in school. What a drag.

I do want to put it out there, though, that I just started a great internship at Parenting magazine, where I'm the resident book girl! I get to look through all the books that we receive from publishing companies and decide if they're fit to review in the magazine! This means I've taken home a bunch of awesome ARCs!! Here's what I snagged:

-A free hardcover copy of Clash of the Demons by Joseph Delaney

-An ARC of The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson

-A free hardcover copy of Leviathon, Scott Westerfeld's new book

-A free hardcover copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

And that's only the beginning! I can't wait to review some of these awesome new titles....I just have to read them first.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

BBAW Meme: Day 5

Write in 50 words or less…what do you like best about your blog right now and where would you like your blog to be a year from now?

What I love most about my blog right now is its simplicity. I have a pretty simple structure and schedule for posting. I like that I don't feel pressured to post on a daily basis, but I also don't forget about it for weeks at a time.

In a year's time, I would like to be posting more often and have a great following (obviously). I would love to still keep it simple, with reviews and a few weekly memes, but I'd love to be reading a greater volume of stuff. Right now, it's hard because I'm in school and I don't have as much time to commit to books, but I love blogging and I'd like to get more into it.

BBAW Meme: Day 4

Today we encourage you to blog about a book you read only because you discovered it on another book blog. Preferably, this will be a book you loved! You might also write a bit about the blog you discovered it on!

Sadly, I have not done this yet. I am planning on picking up That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo all thanks to The Book Lady's Blog, but aside from that, I've had to many of my own books in the TBR pile to take many recommendations. :(

BBAW Meme: Day 3

We encourage you to be creative with this! Please choose one or two questions to answer or try to answer all the questions in five words or less. Or choose a picture to answer a question! Brevity is the goal of today!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
Occasionally. I really like cucumber sandwiches when I'm reading.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of
writing in books horrify you?

I only write in school books.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Fiction mostly.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you
able to put a book down at any point?

Any point.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
I've never done that in my entire life.

What are you currently reading?
A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi. My first solicited review ever! :)

What is the last book you bought?
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I can't wait to read it.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can
you read more than one at a time?

I like to read one non-fiction, one fiction, and one school book at a time. No more than that or I get confused.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
Either at 2:30 pm in a comfy chair or 9:00 pm in my bed.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
They both have their place, but I read more series books.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Marcus Sedgwick. He's almost completely unknown in the States, but he's AMAZING.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
First, in a series. Then, by genre or how well I liked them.

BBAW Meme: Day 2

Post your blogger interview swaps!

I swapped interviews with Elena Gomez, who's blog With Extra Pulp, totally impressed me. Here are her responses to my questions:

1. How did you get started with book blogging?

My friends were getting tired of me overenthusiastically trying to tell them about all the books I’d read. I was sad, but then I discovered the online book blog community and found people also interested in reading and writing about books. I first started on a blog hosting site, then I borrowed an extension of my brother’s URL before getting my own URL a couple of months ago.

2. Has your taste in books changed at all since you started your blog? Do you read more genres than you did previously or do you specialize more?

My taste in reading has definitely expanded. It’s funny actually, that in the process of trying to specialise in a particular type of book for my blog, my personal reading has started going into new genres. I read a romance the other day! I’ve never read romance before.

3. What's your favorite thing about blogging? Do you have a least favorite thing about it?

My favourite part of blogging, besides the community of book bloggers who are the loveliest people, would have to be just the writing part of it. I love to write but I often suffer from writer’s block. Reviewing books keeps the seat warm in between my creative projects. My least favourite thing is keeping up a regular supply of reviews, when I get distracted by rereading favourites such as Jane Eyre and Master & Margarita.

4. I'm a relatively new blogger. Do you having any advice for folks who are just starting out? Is there something you wish you'd known when you started blogging?

Read a lot of blogs. Not just for entertainment, but critically. Look at what works and what doesn’t. Comment lots, book bloggers are welcoming and really supportive of new bloggers. And be patient. It takes a long time to build up readership. I’m still fairly new myself and would like to think there’s still a lot of growing room left for my blog.

There’s nothing in particular I wish I knew because I’ve enjoyed the learning process so far.

5. What are your favorite books of 2009? What 2010 releases are you most excited about?

I don’t read a lot of new books, so I would have to say favourite books I’ve read in 2009 have been Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote and The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. As for 2010 releases, I can’t say I’m up to date on this, so I have no idea I’m afraid. Actually can someone point me to where to find this information in a handy and succinct format? That would be great thanks.

6. More and more books are being made into movies each year. Assuming you haven't already read the book, what do you do first: Read the book or see the film?

I ALWAYS read the book first, if I haven’t already. The exception to this is Jurassic Park because, well, I watched the movie when I was 5, and my reading level was advanced, but not that u Unfortunately this means I end up disliking the movie in comparison. Maybe I should reassess this order.

7. Where do you get most of your book recommendations? How important are reviews to you when you choose your reading material?

I get my recommendations from the other blogs I read, from my sister-in-law, from said sister-in-law’s book club that I have half-joined, and from conversations in my creative writing and publishing classes at uni. As you can imagine, my TBR pile is massive. Reviews are somewhat important. I mean, I hate to think that a bad review would stop me reading a book but it sort of does.

8. If you had a $1000 gift card to your favorite book store and only half an hour to spend it, which section of the store would you head to first?

It really depends on the layout of the store. But I guess I’d start at the classics, and then work my way around in a clockwise direction.

9. Do you participate in a lot of memes? If so, which is your favorite and why?

I don’t really, but I do participate in Musing Monday, by Rebecca at Just One More Page. ( most weeks. I like it because the questions are quite topical and it’s a great way to discover other blogs. And there are a couple that have been floating around Facebook that I decided to do just for fun.

10. What is the significance of the title of your blog, “With Extra Pulp”?

Couple of things - It’s an attempt at irony because pulping is considered BAD in the publishing process and the good publishers have a no-pulp policy. So extra pulp is very bad. But also, it’s sort of meant to loosely describe the types of books I review. Finally, it’s the way I enjoy my orange juice. Oh that’s three things.

There you have it! Wasn't that fun? :)

BBAW Meme: Day 1

The first day of BBAW, Monday September 14th, we encourage you to write a post thanking and spotlighting your favorite blogs that didn’t make the shortlists.

Quite frankly, I don't even know who's on the shortlists. I couldn't view the lists since, by the time I looked, the polls were closed. I've decided I'll just thank the blog that really got me into book blogging. The Book Lady's Blog was the first book blog I encountered and the only one I follow religiously. I learned about memes through this blog, about solicited reviews and about so many books that I'm excited to read. Thanks, Book Lady, even if I never win your contests. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BTT: Informative Book

What’s the most informative book you’ve read recently?

The most informative book I've read recently was Galileo Goes to Jail. You can read my review of it here on my blog, but to sum it up, it was a book about science and religion. The book presented 25 myths that have commonly been used to condemn the church in terms of their abuse of scientists. The book had no religious bias; it just wanted to present some interesting new factual insights into that world.

Booking Through Thursday

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Title: Club Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 Stars

Another Sookie Stackhouse book under my belt and I have to say, I am now obsessed! I felt that this book, Club Dead, was the best book of the series so far.

In this volume, Sookie and Bill are going through a rough patch. Bill is working on a top secret project for the queen of Louisiana and is ignoring their relationship. Soon, Bill goes missing and Sookie realizes that though Bill may be betraying her, she is still compelled to save him.

The most interesting part of this book was the great character development of Alcide, the werewolf. Eric brings Alcide in to help Sookie infiltrate the underworld of Jackson, Mississippi and he is a great new addition to the cast of characters. I really appreciated seeing more of Eric and Alcide than Bill in this book because it gave things a new perspective. I also really enjoyed Sookie's internally conflict in terms of how to deal with Bill or who to have a relationship with. Unlike Bella of Twilight, I felt that Sookie had a real grasp of the fact that her vampire beau might not be the best match for her. Not that I don't love me some Edward Cullen, but Bella is pretty obnoxious.

Overall, I am really pleased with this series. I enjoy reading the Sookie Stackhouse books almost as much as I enjoy watching True Blood, the TV show based on the books.

ISBN: 978-0441010516
Price: $7.00, paperback
Pages: 258

Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review Marathon!

Unfortunately, I have had no time to blog lately, which means it's time for a marathon of book reviews. I didn't have a chance to write long reviews of any of these, and I'm super sorry for the vague-ness, but I wanted to get some new reviews up and out.

Title: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
5/5 Stars

At last, I’ve read The Last Olympian and it did not disappoint. It was my favorite book of the series so far. The book is not so fresh in my mind, but I will say that the plot was intriguing, compelling and new. I never felt bored during this book, never felt a lull in the story. Riordan has written an absolutely perfect ending to a perfect kid’s fantasy series.

ISBN: 978-1423101475
Price: $17.00, hardcover
Pages: 400

Title: The Thirteen Treasures
Author: Michelle Harrison
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 Stars

The Thirteen Treasures was an awesome find. My dad picked it up overseas in England, and I absolutely whizzed through it.

The main character is spending sometime in the summer at her horrible grandmother. It would seem fairly clich├ęd, except she can see fairies. This little detail makes for dilemmas galore, but she always seems to pull through. It’s also steeped with mystery and has a surprising twist at the end! The story is very original and I can’t wait for the sequel.

ISBN: 978-0316041485

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 Stars

I have to say that I was completely surprised by The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The characters were rich and dynamic with really developed personalities. Although I’m not much of a zombie fan, the book had a really intriguing apocalyptic aspect that kept me reading.

ISBN: 978-0385736817
Price: $16.99, hardcover
Pages: 320

Title: Wrath of the Bloodeye
Author: Joseph Delaney
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 Stars

Wrath of the Bloodeye was definitely a page-turner. I’m not sure if it was my favorite of the Last Apprentice books, but it was definitely a welcome addition to the series. I missed the more psychological aspects of the other books, but I did enjoy the characters’ new moral dilemmas.

ISBN: 978-0061344619
Price: $7.99
Pages: 554

Again, I'm so sorry for the sad, vague reviews, but here's four more books I would definitely recommend!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Galileo Goes to Jail edited by Ronald L. Numbers

Title: Galileo Goes to Jail
Editor: Ronald J. Numbers
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 stars

After being away from my blog for far too long, I am back with three reviews to write. Darn my procrastinating tendencies.

Galileo Goes to Jail is the first non-fiction book I've read in a long time, and boy am I glad I did. This book was so insightful and interesting! The book begins with a forward by editor Ronald J. Numbers in which he explains the purpose of the book. He and the other academics who contributed to the book have been studying the history of tension between the church and science. What they've found is that many of the stories used to incriminate the church are myths!

The book is broken down by myth, each written by a credible expert on the matter. I found the book very accessible because I could read the myths out of order and they still made sense. I didn't feel the need to read the entire book at once, which is always refreshing in terms of non-fiction.

Religion vs. science is a very hot topic at the moment, and I think that's why I was drawn to this book. It brings to light the truth behind many of these stories that get circulated in the world of fiction. I was very happy to learn that perhaps the church wasn't so malicious in its approach to scientific discovery.

You can also read my extended review of this book in the Fall 2009 issue of The Common Review, published by The Great Books Foundation, where I interned this summer.

ISBN: 978-0674033276
Price: $18.45, hardcover
Pages: 320

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BTT: Worst Book

What’s the worst book you’ve read recently?
(I figure it’s easier than asking your all-time worst, because, well, it’s recent!)

I must say, this is a very difficult question for me. The problem is, I haven't really read anything awful recently. I've given some books bad reviews, but I didn't think they were bad. In fact, I might still recommend them to people. It's not that they were bad; they just weren't right for me.

I guess I should just say that the worst book I've read recently was My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid. I had to read it for an English class first semester last year. Some people think this book is great literature, but I just didn't get it. The ending gave me very little closure and there wasn't a single character that I felt for. I know it was memoir, so the characters were real people, but shouldn't I still be able to relate?

Anyway, I'm sure there are worse books that I've read, but this is the only one that comes to mind. Until next Thursday!

Check out Booking Through Thursday here!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

Title: The Friday Night Knitting Club
Author: Kate Jacobs
Rating: ☆☆(☆☆☆)
2/5 Stars

At last, my first review of an adult title. Not that anyone is anxiously awaiting said review, but I'm happy to be doing it.

The Friday Night Knitting Club had been on my TBR list since mid-March, which is kind of sad. It was one of those books that just sat on the shelf waiting for me to finish all my must-reads. Finally, I decided it was time to break the vicious cycle of YA Sci-Fi / Fantasy and pick up something a little different.

I was surprised by how gripped I was by the story line of TFNKC (as I have deemed to call it). Usually I don't go for these Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult, women facing adversity types of books. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about female empowerment, but sometimes the unrealistic lives of these seemingly every day women just get to me.

TFNKC fortunately was not like that. The story felt real to me, like I could be reading a memoir. I grew fond of the characters and each of their flaws. I was impressed at Jacobs' ability to weave (no pun intended) aspects of knitting into aspects of the story.

Alas, the last 80 pages or so completely ruined my good opinion of the book. I won't say what happens exactly, but I will say that she went all Jodi Picoult on me, just as I feared. I would've been so much more impressed if she had managed to keep the story compelling without the inclusion of terminal illness!

I suppose I would recommend this to any readers who go for that sort of book, that "Oh wouldn't this make a great movie a la Nights in Rodanthe?" I, on the other hand, will not be reading Knit Two, the sequel to TFNKC, anytime soon.

ISBN: 978-0425219096
Price: $14.00, paperback
Pages: 384

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Preferences

Alright, so as of right now, I'm the only person on the planet who reads this blog, which is kinda sad. So, I'm trying out some things to get my name in the blogosphere and one of them is "Booking Through Thursday," or BTT, as it is referred to on the web. Lots of book blogs respond to BTT weekly questions and I thought I'd give it a go.

Which do you prefer?

* Reading something frivolous? Or something serious? I prefer frivolous, but there's a time and place for serious reading as well.
* Paperbacks? Or hardcovers? I love hardcovers. Paperbacks are cheaper, but I love the feel of a hardcover.
* Fiction? Or Nonfiction? Fiction. For sure.
* Poetry? Or Prose? Prose. I don't really understand poetry, quite frankly.
* Biographies? Or Autobiographies? Autobiographies. I like memoirs a lot.
* History? Or Historical Fiction? Historical fiction, although I haven't read a
good one in a while.
* Series? Or Stand-alones? Series. Although I love the closure of finishing a stand-alone, I usually end up wanting more.
* Classics? Or best-sellers? I guess best-sellers. So many classics are best sellers, so there you go.
* Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose? Fruity. I love beautiful quotes.
* Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness? Plots.
* Long books? Or Short? Long.
* Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated? Non-illustrated. I like to use my imagination.
* Borrowed? Or Owned? OWNED! I get so sad when I have to return a book to someone.
* New? Or Used? New. I like knowing the cracks in the spine (and the food smudges) are mine.

Here's the Booking Through Thursday link: BTT

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech

Title: The Castle Carona
Author: Sharon Creech
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 Stars

I have never read Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons, but judging by her writing in The Castle Corona she is very worthy of such a prize. Though the story is simple, the writing is captivating, making the story move more quickly than I was expecting.

This story takes place in the Castle Corona and it's neighboring village simultaneously. Although the inhabitants of the castle have unpleasant qualities, they are all surprisingly likeable. As a reader, you forgive them their faults. The villagers' story is focused around orphaned brother and sister Pia and Enzio, who are anxious to learn their true identity, but not terribly unhappy in their station. This is where I saw a bit of a flaw in the story. Creech seemed to leave out the fact that Pia and Enzio were unhappy in their master's hut. However, when the orphans' station changes, they suddenly have a lot to complain about in terms of their former life.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, despite its intentions for a juvenile audience. It seems like the perfect book to read aloud in a classroom or story time.

ISBN: 978-0060846237
Price: $7.99, paperback (with full color illustrations!)
Pages: 336

Monday, July 20, 2009

Flood and Fang by Marcus Sedgwick

Title: Flood and Fang
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Rating: ☆☆(☆☆☆)
2/5 Stars

Marcus Sedwick is, by far, my favorite undiscovered author. Alright, perhaps he's just undiscovered here in the U.S. I've never been able to find his books in stores; I always have to order them online or get my dad to pick them up in Heathrow Airport. So when he brought home this new title, I was excited, to say the least.

Unfortunately, Flood and Fang did not live up to Sedgwick's other titles. The Raven Mysteries (the series from which Flood and Fang is book 1) are intended for a younger audience than Sedgwick's other books. In my opinion, he is at his best when the material is a little darker. The nemesis of Flood and Fang, a slimy crocodile of sorts, is not nearly as believable as Sedgwick's vampires or witches from other titles. In attempts to make the book more kid-friendly, Sedgwick has lost his flair for horror.

Maybe I would find Flood and Fang scary if I was younger, but I just don't think this book cuts it. As entertaining as the narration was (done by an ancient raven, Edgar), I just couldn't get hooked.

ISBN: 978-1842556924
Price: $12.99, hardcover
Pages: 256

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Title: The Battle of the Labyrinth
Author: Rick Riordan
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
5/5 Stars

Rick Riordan has really outdone himself. The fourth book in the Percy Jackson series was everything I wanted it to be and more! In this volume, Percy and his friends must venture into Daedalus's labyrinth to prevent Luke and the evil Titan Kronos from attacking Camp Half-Blood. The labyrinth is full of secrets and danger, and to get home safely, the campers must put their faith in some unlikely characters.

Riordan's characters become more introspective in this book, which adds a new psychological depth to the books. They are no longer simply easy reads with exciting battle sequences. The kids are starting to be affected emotionally by their struggles with evil. Annabeth is especially tormented, because she loves Luke, despite his turn to the dark side.

My qualms about the last book were resolved in this one. Riordan explains that all half-bloods have meaningful dreams, a fact he failed to expose earlier. Now, I'm itching to pick up book 5, The Last Olympian and to see the recently announced movie version of The Lightning Thief. Let Percy Jackson mania commence!

ISBN: 978-1423101499
Price: $7.99, paperback
Pages: 384

The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff

Title: The Hound of Rowan
Author: Henry H. Neff
Rating: ☆☆☆(☆☆)
3/5 Stars

I have had this book on my shelf for quite some time now, but I wouldn't necessarily say it was worth the wait. The Hound of Rowan was, if I may say so, a bit of a knock-off of Harry Potter. A young boy with undiscovered magical talent is whisked away to an ancient private school to learn to hone his powers. He has abilities beyond those of his classmates and must use them to fight a powerful force of evil. Sound familiar? I thought so.

Despite its similarities to Rowling's beloved series, the book kept my attention. There were some interesting variations in the story, like mysterious connection each student has to a piece of art. This allowed Neff to include rich detail from Irish history, leaving a fair bit of mystery for the book's sequels. Whether the sequels will ever hit the shelves is a mystery to me.

For those looking for something to fill the Potter void, I would recommend this book. The feel of the Rowan Academy is so very like Hogwarts, I sometimes found myself thinking I was reading a Harry Potter book. For those looking for something new and fresh, however, I'd skip it.

ISBN: 978-0375838958
Price: $6.99, paperback
Pages: 448

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Title: Living Dead in Dallas
Author: Charlaine Harris
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 Stars

I've got to hand it to Harris: she really managed to turn my opinion of her around. I really did enjoy book two in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Living Dead in Dallas. It could because I didn't know what was coming, but nonetheless, the added suspense really drove me to read this book at a rapid pace.

In this volume, Sookie is asked to investigate the disappearance of a vampire in Dallas. The story woven here is more intricate than in the last book, with more twists and turns than Dead Until Dark. Harris's wrting style seems much improved as well. Character motives are clearer and I found myself confused much less often.

I do find that the constant addition of new supernatural beings is a little much. Are we now expected to believe that every kind of mythological creature exists in Sookie's world? If so, Harris has a whole lot of explaining to do. She's opened a can of worms that I'm not really prepared for as a reader.

ISBN: 978-0441009237
Price: $7.99, paperback
Pages: 291

The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander

Title: The Castle of Llyr
Author: Lloyd Alexander
5/5 Stars

The Chronicles of Prydain first caught my eye when I was browsing through Barnes and Noble in the West Village. My sister and I love the Disney version of "The Black Cauldron," so I was immediately drawn to the books when I spotted them in the children's section. What I did not realize was that the Chronicles were a richly developed series with many more stories to tell than simply the one shown in the cartoon.

The Castle of Llyr has been my favorite in the series so far. At last, the romantic tension between Taran and Eilonwy is being recognized. This was something I found lacking in the last two volumes. Granted, the characters were younger than, and probably thought that members of the opposite sex had cooties. However, I am excited to see Taran jealous of Eilonwy's possible betrothal or willing to risk his life for her safety.

The plot, too, is much richer. The villain is more than just pure evil. These villains are more calculating and we actually "meet" them. In the other books, the villains are abstract, far away. This villain has interactions with the other characters.

All in all, I found Llyr to be a moving and incredibly well written story. I can't wait to see what comes next in the world of Prydain.

ISBN: 978-0805080506
Price: $6.99, paperback
Pages: 208

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Rating: ☆☆(☆☆☆)
2/5 stars

Dead Until Dark was, unfortunately, not nearly as good as I expected it to be. Of course I had heard from many people that the books by Charlaine Harris were quite different from the new HBO show inspired by them. However, I wanted to give this book a chance to stand on its own, as a separate entity. Maybe it would surprise me, as did The Reader, and turn out better than its already awe-inspiring Hollywood counterpart. Alas, I just couldn't sink my teeth into this one (pardon the pun).

Maybe if I had picked up this title before I became an avid viewer of the show True Blood, I would have rated it higher. It may have turned out to be a real page-turner if I hadn't known what was coming. It wasn't just the plot, though, that had me yawning. Harris's writing was disconnected at best. I found myself getting lost occasionally and having to go back and re-read passages to clarify. Sookie is the most oddly developed character I have ever encountered. She breaks up with Bill on multiple occasions for no apparent reason. Maybe I just wasn't good enough at reading between the lines, but I think that's a testament to Harris's poor writing. I just didn't understand any of Sookie's motives.

Despite my disappointment with Dead Until Dark, I have purchased book number two, Living Dead In Dallas. Hopefully, the fact that I don't know the ending of this one will reap a better rating.

ISBN: 978-0441008537
Price: $7.99, paperback
Pages: 260

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Title: The Titan's Curse
Author: Rick Riordan
Rating: ☆☆☆☆(☆)
4/5 stars

I have to hand it to Mr. Riordan; The Titan's Curse was, in my opinion, even better than the first two books in the Percy Jackson series. The action started off right away and along the main plot line. Sure, Sea of Monsters had a dodgeball battle in the first chapter or so, but this book got right to the heart of the story right away. New kids Bianca and Nico di Angelo are being stalked by a monster at their military school and Percy, Grover, Annabeth, and new edition Thalia must rescue them. The di Angelo's are an important part of the overall story of Titan's Curse, which just gets better as you go. I do find it a little farfetched that Percy dreams about whatever it is he needs to know. How did he get this power? Hopefully, Riordan will explain in future books. It seems a little ridiculous to believe that Percy just conveniently dreams about huntress Zoe Nightshade's past or kidnapped Annabeth's whereabouts. Despite this plot hole of sort, The Titan's Curse kept me completely enthralled from page 1. There weren't lulls in the story and we got to see a lot more of the gods. If you're already excited by the Percy Jackson series, this book is a must-read. If you haven't read them yet, pick up The Lightning Thief and get on the bandwagon already!

ISBN: 978-1423101482
Price: $7.99, paperback
Pages: 336

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Extras
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Rating: ☆☆☆(☆☆)
3/5 stars

The final book in the Uglies series had me a little disappointed for the first 100 pages or so. Where was Tally Youngblood? Sure, there were vague references to her (this being the world she had lived in), but I missed my favorite main character. The book eventually redeemed itself as the plot began to thicken and Tally finally showed up. However, the story lacked the vibe of the first three books. Extras featured no tyrannical government, no espionage. Extras filled that void with alien-esque surge monkeys, who turn out to be the final twist at the end of the story. Personally, I was left wanting. It was still exciting and certainly a page-turner. Westerfeld has lost none of his pinache for action writing. Battle sequences are always great in his books. However, the character Aya was not as likeable as Tally had been before her. In fact, I found her a little pathetic. All in all, I would've rather the series ended with Specials, but still worth the 2 days it took me to read Extras.

ISBN: 978-1416971214
Price: $9.99, paperback
Pages: 448


I've decided to change the blog to a book review blog! I'm going to review literally every book I finish, even the random ones for school or work. It'll be fun. Seriously.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Intro to ME!

Just a quick disclaimer:

This blog might bore you! In fact, it's quite likely it will.

My aim is just to give myself an outlet for putting my thoughts out there in the blogosphere. I'm sure they'll be nothing controversial or shocking on here. I just want to write about my life, my interests, whatever! At this point, I'm pretty much writing about anything and everything, but hopefully, in time, things will narrow out and I'll have a more clear focus. For now, enjoy the absolute chaos that is my first blog.