Thursday, September 30, 2010


Title: Wintergirls

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Pages: 278

Rating: ****

Summary (from Goodreads: Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

Review: Wintergirls is the type of book you sit there thinking about after you finish the final page. It sits with you, makes you think. I finished this book yesterday, and it's all I've been able to think about today.
Wintergirls isn't necessarily "dark" (when I think dark, I think evil), but it is haunting and harsh. Nothing candy-coated here! It is truth, and lies, and perception, and loss.
Anderson's writing style mimics that of Speak (the only other book I've read by her), with fragments, varying text sizes, crossed out text, and other aspects of the text not usually considered "right" in a published novel. it is much more like stream of consciousness writing. Cassie's death is constantly in the back of her mind. "she called thirty-three times" is a common thought.
I didn't quite get the term 'wintergirl'. I understand it means not dead, but not alive, but I just couldn't really grasp it. I found the ending to be quite fitting and interesting. I liked how Laurie drew the contrast between not onlly Lia and Cassie, but Lia and Elijah as well (you'll learn all about him when you read this).
I couldn't put Wintergirls down. It is a quick read, but it will stay with you. I highly recommend it to any teenage girl, especially one struggling with body image or an eating disorder. As a girl who often wakes up hating her body, I found Wintergirls to be a reminder of how far into "dangerland" many girls go, and being skinny simply isn't worth it.

Recommended for: teenage girls.

P.S. might I just make a note of how GORGEOUS the cover is??? It is one of my all-time favorite book covers.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Guardian of the Gate

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read Prophecy of the Sisters, READ NO FURTHER!

Title: Guardian of the Gate

Author: Michelle Zink

Pages: 335

Rating: ****

Summary (from Goodreads): The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants: There's also Lia's boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing

Review: This book was a great sequel to The Prophecy of the Sisters. It took me about halfway through the book to get into it; before then, I just felt like it had no drive. There was nothing that made me want to sit down and read more.
Then it changed.
The second half of the book is amazing. Lia must make several choices, and betrayal is her biggest threat. The betrayal she faces shocked me, though of course I knew it would be to easy to have it be the person they suspect (is that giving too much away?)
Another reason it picks up is *swoon* Dimitri. TO be completely honest, I read The Prophecy of the Sisters too long ago to remember how I felt about James, but I adore Dimitri. He is sexy, charming, chivalrous, and powerful. An excellent fit with Lia.
One thing that bothers me is how inferior Lia comes off as to her sister. WE are told Alice is a huge power, the Souls answer to her now. And Lia...well, she's learning. How on earth is she going to win this battle? And the twist at the end--I can't tell for certain if I was expecting it (hindsight bias, and all that jazz).
I'm a bit confused on the title. Initially, I heard it was The Guardian and the Gate, but somewhere along the line it was switched to Guardian of the Gate, and I couldn't really fit that with the plotline, since Lia is the Gate.
Also, the covers--I know many people are really excited about the new design, but I honestly liked the original cover to The Prophecy of the Sisters more (with the stone statues). These new covers don't really grab you like the statue cover grabbed me. It seems like it could be the cover of any book.
It was an excellent story, though. Michelle Zink is a great writer who I'm sure we can expect more from in the future.

Recommended for: Supernatural fans; historical fiction junkies

Also a note: if you haven't heard anything about Speak Loudly movement, be sure to check it out. It's all about fighting for banned books and authors' freedom of speech. Sarah Ockler talks a lot about it here, since her book Twenty Boy Summer (review here) is being targeted in Missouri.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

So, really, who HASN'T read the Harry Potter series? I haven't read the entire series since about fifth grade (and I'm pretty sure only 4 were out then anyway), so I decided it was time to reread the series! This'll be my third time through. I know, a lot of fans have read them tens of times, but oh well! There may be spoilers in this review, so if you haven't read the series, READ NO FURTHER!!!!

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Author: J.K. Rowling

Pages: 309

Rating: ***** (what else can you give Harry Potter??)

Summary: we all know the story right?

Review: So as stated above, I haven't read the first four books in a very long time (I reread 5 and 6 before 7 came out). I've watched the movies quite often (who else LOVES Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family???), but I'd forgotten many of the details and differences in the books.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is an excellent book. It's so interesting to read these earlier books after having read the entire series, because as I'm noticing in the first two, they are definitely geared towards a younger audience. The writing is much simpler, and the plot isn't nearly as dark.
That's another thing I noticed in this first book--the writing. It wasn't nearly as stellar as it is in the later books. Of course, this was J.K. Rowling's first novel, but it's cool to see where she started (which, of course, is still pretty good, but not MIND blowing) and where she ended the series as a writer--there's a lot of progression! Don't get me wrong, her writing is still great, but it gets even greater as the series goes on.
Another thing that's interesting about going back and rereading these earlier books is the incredible amount of detail and foreshadowing J.K. Rowling includes. Snape protects Harry at the Quidditch game, the centaurs discuss how bright Mars is (Mars was the god of war, and a war is coming to the wizarding world), etc. As for detail, she really shows us the characters and the setting, so next time I watch the movie I'll have to make the comments I always do for other book-based movies: "That's wrong--this is how it is!" and "He's supposed to look like this." Yeah. I'm kinda annoying to watch a movie with. For example, the Dursleys seem a lot meaner to Harry in the book than they were in the first movie. Like they dye his clothes black and only give him Dudley's hand me downs, which drown him. He does all the cooking and cleaning. (And, since I might forget this by the time I review book 2, Aunt Petunia threw a FRYING PAN at Harry's head.)
Sorry for the somewhat rambling review, but I'm not really concerned with discussing characters and plot since most of you have probably read these books and analyzed them to pieces, as most of us have while waiting for the next book to be released.

Recommended for: EVERYONE--young and old, boys and girls, avid bookworms and non-readers alike

Also, I highly recommend two Harry Potter discussions:
~Mark Reads Harry Potter. This is a twenty-something guy reading the series for the first time, and he hasn't seen any of the movies. He reviews chapter by chapter, and these reviews are hilarious! I've been following along from the beginning of the series as I read, but you can read from anywhere! He's on the 6th book now. There is a bit of profanity, so I recommend this to high school age+
~Mugglecast. This is a podcast (kinda like a taped radio broadcast. Basically people discussing Harry Potter.) done by the people who run Mugglenet, the #1 Harry Potter fansite in the world! They are currently doing a chapter-by-chapter discussion of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but you can find older episodes on their website too. They don't just do a chapter-by-chapter; they discuss listener emails, Harry Potter news, and more great stuff! I've laughed so hard I cried listening to these guys, and I highly recommend them to ANY Harry Potter fan.

Enjoy! Only 64 days until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Half Price Books

Sooo I only recently (as in, this summer) discovered the wonder that is Half Price Books. Of course I've always known about it. There's a store about five minutes from my house, but I always passed it up for Borders or Barnes and Noble. That is, until I was out with my lovely reader friend and she suggested we go there. I'd been there before when I was younger, but, as stated, I always chose a new book store instead.

What a mistake.

Half Price Books is a store full of treasures. Some books aren't in the best of shape (which sucks for a perfectionist obsessive-compulsor like myself) but the prices are right. Hardcovers aren't super cheap ($8-9), but in comparison to list prices, they are steals. Paperbacks are all half of the list price, which is amazing.

They are having a 20% off everything labor day sale, so my sister and I headed there this morning. I was armed and ready to go! I ended up spending waaaay more than I intended, but the most expensive book I bought was actually one I got for my sister, and it was $5.18. Yeah. That's how cheap this place is. Here is my list of treasures acquired this morning:

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt (already read--well, listened to--but it was only $4!)

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer (also already read, but it's a classic and one of my favorite books of all time)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (I saw this movie and loved it! And the book is always better, right?)

Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti (I've read When It Happens by her and loved it, and I vowed to read her other books. This is one that isn't in the best of shape, but it was the only copy they had, and it was $4.50! I can survive a little damage for that price!)

Take Me There by Susane Colasanti (See above. though this one is in almost perfect shape)

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (I'm not entirely sure what this is about, but it's a classic, right? And it's so pretty--this copy is smaller, leather-bound, and has a ribbon bookmark--all for only $3!! How was I supposed to pass that up?!)

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks (love love love him. Almost perfect condition hardcover for only $2. Two dollars!!)

This is what I call a successful morning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Title: Sea

Author: Heidi R. Kling

Pages: 323

Rating: ****

Summary: Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy, Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers.

And Sea’s real adventure begins.

Review: This book was really, really good. For romance lovers, of course, but I loved the story.
Sienna takes a trip across the globe to help out at an orphanage for tsunami victims. I loved this because so many of us forget that these people's lives are still devastated. We feel bad and donate some money once we hear about it but after a few months we forget and move on. This is the case with most natural disasters. However, the people who live(d) there's lives are forever changed, often for the worse.
And then, of course, there's Deni. Hot, sweet, deep Deni whose family was killed in the tsunami, leaving him on his own. He is a wonderful love interest. But this wasn't some ordinary love interest. Indonesian culture is very different from ours, as most of us know, especially in regards to dating and marriage. That cultural conflict shows up quite a bit in the story.
I really liked Sienna as a protagonist. She could really relate to the kids because, though she still had her father, she lost her mother to the ocean, just like the children at the orphanage. She was in pain herself, and yet she was there trying to help other kids feel better.
Yes, this story has lots and lots of cheese. But it's not just about the romance, and though I predicted the "plot twist" at the end, it still threw a wrench into the story, and I wanted to find out what was going to happen! This is a great summer beach read, and though I realize summer is over, it could be great for the winter as well. When cuddled up by the fire, you can read about Sienna almost melting in the 100 degree heat.

Recommended for: romance lovers (fans of Twenty Boy Summer and Sarah Dessen, though it's not quite up to those levels)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

30 Best Book Engines

Hello all! Again, so sorry for my extended absence. With school starting, I've just been a tad busy.

A site has been brought to my attention that I thought you all might like to know about! It's called 30 Best Book Engines to Finding Your Perfect Summer Read, but it doesn't have to be just about summer books. I've looked at some of the sites and they look AWESOME! So go check it out here!

I also will have a review up shortly for Sea by Heidi R. Kling, which I finished yesterday! (Hint: It was amazing!)