Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have received an award from Rachel at Books are a Garden. Thanks for the award, Rachel! Be sure to check out her blog!

A prolific blogger is one who is intellectually productive, keeping up an active blog with enjoyable content. After accepting this award, recipients are asked to pass it forward to seven other deserving blogs.

Here are the blogs I am awarding this on to:
The Compulsive ReaderTeens Read and Write
One Book at a Time
2 many good books, 2 little time
Books at Midnight
Fantastic Book Review
Shut Up! I'm Reading.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Girl in the Arena

Title: Girl in the Arena

Author: Lise Haines

Pages: 336

Rating: ****

Summary (from Goodreads):It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena
Lyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him...

Review: I really enjoyed this book. I won it from The Compulsive Reader a while back, and I finally got around to reading it. The plot was fairly unique (more than once I was reminded of the Hunger Games), the characters were great, and there were just enough "What?!" moments to keep you guessing. But let me just get this out of the way: the dialogue bothered me. No quotation marks were used, so dialogue looked like this:

--I just don't know, I said. I shook my head and turned away.
--It'll all work out, he reassured me, though there was no possibly way of knowing.

It made the story hard to follow in some places, and I couldn't tell what was more speech or just her thoughts. It was somewhat distracting.
Other than that, which really doesn't have much to do with the story, I loved it. Lyn is a take charge, kick butt girl who doesn't let anyone fight her battles for her (no pun intended). She has a lot on her plate, but she balances it all gracefully.

The writing, for the most part, was pretty good. There were a few parts in the middle where there would be a really long run on sentence that wouldn't really go anywhere, but it just went on and on, throwing in a detail here, a bit more information there, and finally she would try to end it DRAMATICALLY. See what I mean? I only noticed it in the middle of the novel; the beginning and ending were much better.

The other little problem I had with this book is the same thing I had with the Hunger Games. They treat life like it is so disposable. Death isn't a major concept, like a character dying is normal. And I guess in the life of a gladiator you have to get used to it, but life is still a life. Death is still an ending, even if suddenly it's a sport (which disgusts me, don't even get me started). For much of the story, I had to forget the fact that the point of this "sport" is to kill your opponent. The winner isn't the one who scores more runs or the most baskets; it's the one who's still alive after the match. Which sent chills down my spine while reading.

But the story doesn't focus that much on the actual fights; it focuses on Lyn's life and the trouble she has as part of the Gladiator world. The GSA, the association that runs the sport, has many constricting rules and regulations members have to follow. Lyn is trying to break free of that and have a normal life for her and her little brother, but it isn't easy.

This really was a very good book. My issues were slight; I tore through this book in a couple days. I had to know how everything turned out for Lyn. A great read.

Recommended for: fans of The Hunger Games and kick-butt female protagonists.

But don't just take MY word for it. Watch this video, and I dare you not to want to read Girl in the Arena afterwards:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Star Shack

First, let me just say I am SO sorry for my absence! School was stressing me out, and I had prom last week (!!) so I was a little busy with that! I read a TON of great books over spring break, including this one, which I received from the author, Lila Castle!

Title: The Star Shack

Author: Lila Castle

Pages: 224

Rating: ***1/2

Summary (from Goodreads): Pete and Annabelle live for their summers together on Gingerbread Beach. They've always believed they were a perfect pair… until junior year, when Annabelle becomes obsessed with astrology. Now they can hardly stand each other. Pete thinks that Annabelle (a Leo) has become a total flake; Annabelle thinks Pete (a Scorpio) has become an uptight jerk. When Annabelle dares Pete to open a summer business on the Boardwalk generating personalized horoscopes, their fast-paced, hilarious bickering soon rises to a fever pitch. The he-said/she-said advice of the Star Shack is wildly popular and seems able to fix any relationship problem… except their own. But when one of Annabelle's star charts helps catch a thief, Pete might have to admit that the stars could really hold the key to the future…and to his own heart.

Review: I really liked this book. Told from alternating viewpoints, Lila Castle has creating a funny, cute read. I really enjoyed the characters--I laughed out loud more than a few times while reading!--and the plot was good. How they came to run the Star Shack was a bit unrealistic, but I just went with it. After reading this, I wish I could have my horoscope read to me! I want to find my perfect match! Anyway...

At the beginning of each chapter, there was a horoscope for one of the characters. This was really cool! It helped me understand the character; of course, they could have been made up for the book...but either way!

I love astrology and horoscopes, the idea that fate is playing a role in life, so I really understood where Annabelle was coming from. It'd be awesome to learn about the stars and be able to do an in-depth analysis of different people in my life (for others interested in this--check out The Secret Language of Birthdays. It's awesome, and accurate!!)

All in all, a good book. It was a quick, cute read; perfect for spring break or summer.

Recommended for: romance lovers, aspiring astrologers (aka anyone who reads her horoscope)

Friday, April 2, 2010


CUWAC, Curl Up With a Classic, is a monthly meme, hosted by me, in which I review a classic novel.

Title: Romeo and Juliet

Author: William Shakespeare

Rating: *****

Summary: Seriously? Is this necessary? Two feuding families, kids fall in love...

Review: My favorite work of Shakespeare. Beautiful, romantic, and tragic, Romeo and Juliet is perfect for a hopeless romantic like myself. It's story is based on the themes of true love and the fact that violence and hatred will get one no where. I know there are many complaints about this play, and here I shall attempt to address them:

  • Juliet is too young for Romeo; it's gross. Okay, so yes, she is supposed to be about fourteen, and it is assumed Romeo is at least twenty. But when Shakespeare was around, this was completely normal! He didn't write it to be gross. During this time period, girls were married as soon as they were were women, and never to boys their own age. Which is completely sexist, but hey, let's just be thankful that time is over!!

  • They fall in love too quickly, and they know each other for three days before getting married. All I can say about this one is whoever says this has no faith in the power of love. I think if you believe in love at first sight, you can believe this could happen. Love isn't always this sudden, but in Romeo and Juliet's case, it drowned them from the beginning.

Now, you may not agree with me, but I love this play. If you have to read something by Shakespeare, make it this. Not only is this my favorite play, it is one of two works of the Bard that I actually like, the other being Twelfth Night. All in all, definitely read this play, romantic or not. It's basically a necessity of anyone who calls themselves a reader.

Recommended for: romantics

If you haven't already, check out my review for the "retelling" of Romeo and Juliet, O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell here.