Monday, January 31, 2011

Review Issue # 2: Not my Cup of Tea

I’m hesitating and indulging at the same time. YA is composed of several genres – general, contemporary, romance, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, dystopia and historical. I’m naturally drawn to anything paranormal and fantasy. But when I started reading The Hunger Games, Birthmarked and Nomansland, I fell in love with the dystopian genre. This love inspired me to write my own dystopian novel (I’m still working on it.) I don’t usually read contemporary and romance novels but when I started blogging, I’ve encountered several novels that fall under this category that I love: The Julian Game by Adele Griffin, Sing Me to Sleep and Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison, Anxious Hearts by Tucker Shaw and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Since then, I haven’t been so hesitant to read and accept books for review concerning contemporary and romance books. A few days from now on February 6th – I’ll even start a blog event featuring romance novels!

Right now, I’m reading Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley. I love it. It reminds me of Confessions of a Shopaholic and and a movie about a country girl. It has a very familiar vibe. It’s light to read. I don’t usually read this fast when it comes to contemporary novels, but I do right now. What does this prove? This proves that I might like or even love a novel from a genre that isn’t my favorite. Books can surprise you. Authors can pull you in with their writing. The unexpected could happen.

But in my one year of blogging, I’ve stumbled upon a couple of novels that I really had a hard time with. Believe me, it wasn’t even an issue with the cover that started this hard relationship. For three to four times, I’ve tried reading these books. And over and over again, I find myself in the same situation: having a difficult time reading the story, not being able to get into it, and noticing that the story is a bit…dull and boring or really just disconnected – it doesn’t appeal to me the same way the other novels did. This makes me really, really sad. Not only because I won’t be writing a good review about it but because I won’t be able to finish the whole story – not because I don’t want to (I want to. I really, really do.) but because I can’t. I couldn’t. No matter how hard or how many times I tried. In my one year of blogging, reading these have been the most challenging and difficult part so far. I have no idea how I'm going to review these books. I have no idea what to do. Any suggestions?

So, to conclude…should I or should I not request/read/review books that are not my cup of tea? What do you think?

I think I should still do that. Because a good reviewer accepts challenges and broadens her bookish mind. Because the unexpected could happen. Because there are very good authors out there whose works I haven’t read yet. Because I joined Reggie’s 2011 YA Contemporary Challenge and it will do me good to read contemporary novels once in a while. 

Guess what? I joined the A-Z Challenge!

 Okay, I’ve *finally* decided. I’m going to be participating in the A-Z Challenge for two reasons:

-It’s fun! My book blogger friends are also participating!
-I don’t think I’ve read books that start with Q, J, X, Z, Y, R, U, V and E! This will be a good idea for reading books with titles that start with those letters.

A-Z Challenge is hosted by Steph of Thoughts of a Book Junky!

A – Across the Universe by Beth Revis
B – Bliss by Lauren Myracle
C – City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
D – Delirium by Lauren Oliver
E – End of the Line, The by Angela Cerrito
F – Forbidden by  Tabitha Suzuma
G – Guardians by CJ Gosling
H – Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens
I – I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
J – Jenna and Jonah’s Fauxmance by Brendan Haplin and Emily Franklin
K – Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
L – Logic of Demons by H.A. Goodman
M – Mermaid’s Mirror, The by LK Madigan
N – Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
O  - Outside In by Maria Snyder
P – Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
Q – Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks
R – Rosie by Mariam Maarouf
S – Sinful by Sara Dailey and Staci Weber
T – Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer
U – Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
V – Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
W – Wither by Lauren Destefano
X – XVI by Julia Karr
Y – You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
Z – Zirconya by Diana Ilinca

Goodluck to me and to everyone participating! 

Review: The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter by John Gosselink

Book Description via Goodreads:

Thaddeus A. Ledbetter is a middle-schooler who has been unjustly imprisoned. Well, not exactly imprisoned, but relegated to the outcast society of in-school suspension. To extract himself from this shameful sentence, detail-oriented Thaddeus has amassed a case file of notes, letters, emails, annotated drawings, journal entries, and other exhibits in his defense. This ingeniously constructed paperback "defense brief" draws you in and then nearly drowns you in giggles.

Source: Abrams Books – Amulet Books, Emma Sanders (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

With the vibe of something straight out of a cartoon, The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter was very humorous and witty. Thaddeus was punished with ISS – In-School Suspension, a rare and harsh punishment for students. Everyone – the adulyts including the principal of Crooked Creek – thought that Thaddeus really deserved it. But on the part of Thaddeus, he thought that he wasn’t guilty and that he didn’t deserve any of this.

In his defense, Thaddeus tried to explain all the incidents that earned him his punishment. In the beginning to the first couple of pages, I felt that Thaddeus was a handful. Really. But as I read on, I came to see how several things went wrong. With the excuse of being a kid who was naturally curious and naturally helpful, Thaddeus really didn’t deserve to be in ISS. There was more to the story than the adults knew.

What I really liked about this novel was that the author used different forms: emails, letters, notes, song drafts, student information file, journal pages, fun facts and the formal defense. Gosselink compiled them to tell the whole story. I think it made The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter more fun, more entertaining and easier to read. Another thing was the voice of the character – Thaddeus. He adapted quite a mature voice of reasoning that combined with his youthful perception. This novel succeeded in showing the big difference in the reasoning of adults and children and how this difference affected their interaction and their lives.

The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter was not just about a boy who caused trouble but it was also about a boy who was struggling with the death of his father. The family situation was something that turned this book from funny and light to realistic disguised as light. I have known people who had loved ones pass away and really, the effect on them was very obvious and very strong, the same way that the death of the main character’s father had affected him. He tried to cope through helping everyone do their work better. I think he was not only trying to help people, but he was also trying to continue his father’s work. Although his desire to help was excessive, his intentions were pure. I recommend this to teens with little brothers, to adults with sons and nephews and to anyone who wants a light read. This book might help you understand how your brother, son and nephew thinks.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Book Description via Goodreads:

A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt -- not to mention a princess for a roommate! -- all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school.

There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.

And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

Source: Penguin USA – Speak, Lisa Cach (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Nothing I could write in this review could ever give justice to the perfection of Wake Unto Me. No words could ever perfectly describe how awesome this was.

Caitlyn did not have outstanding grades or any outstanding talent for that matter – aside from drawing and dreaming strange vivid dreams if you consider those. She was the odd-woman-out in Spring Creek. Her mother died in a car accident and was thought of as a crazy woman. Her father and her stepmother thought Caitlyn took after her mother. So when the Fortune School offered her a full ride, she grabs it to leave Spring Creek. I was able to relate to her in many ways. Her character was something that was very likable.

Cach made an exquisite combination of paranormal, historical and romance that will spin the smooth threads of Caitlyn’s life – her past, her present and her future. Caitlyn’s dreams allowed her to share her life with Raphael, a gorgeous artist who carried a burden. Every dream strengthened her desire to see Raphael for a longer time and to help him find a hidden treasure that dates back to the Crusades. She really felt that he was real. But that couldn’t be because Raphael only lived in her dreams or didn’t he?

I found myself drawn to the mystery of Caitlyn’s dreams, to the haunted history of the castle and to the abyss near the grounds of the Fortune School. The castle itself emanated so much mystery. I loved it! To add to that, the castle was said to be haunted by the Woman in Black, a girl looking for her lost beloved. And beyond the walls of the castle, lies the Abyss where Thierry, Brigette’s brother, fell. The area was more or less filled with death, loss and bitterness – a perfect place for ghosts.

Through dreams, I got to see the past of the castle. Raphael had lived there with Beneto, his mentor, Ursino, Giovanni and Philippe, a French spy. Raphael’s life was in jeopardy. Someone wanted to kill him. But the castle has more complicated stories than that. Inside its walls were a treasure brought back from the time of the Crusades and a heart waiting to be found.

Wake Unto Me is an unforgettable story with remarkable characters, following the rush of treasure-hunting and dream-travelling. Intricately woven with shocking and unpredictable secrets and revelations, this is one of the most compelling paranormal romances out there. The best ghost novel in YA is finally here! I recommend this to paranormal romance fans, maybe to historical – specifically the ones fond of the Crusades fictions, ghost story readers and everyone who wants an unpredictable read.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Triple Treat Version

This week, I’ve got three books for my Waiting on Wednesday post. I’ve recently discovered the first and have been the eyeing the other two for a while now.
Watched by Sharde Richardson
Publication Date: May 30, 2011
Published by: Jolt

Mikayla doesn’t want much: just to rock out to her favorite band, become the next Kwiki Stop video gaming champion, and keep her Q-tip habit under control. What she does want is the sight of the sudden inexplicable dark auras around everyone to stop. Problem is, those auras are demons and Mikayla is the last trait holder with the power to ban them. Which is a total buzz kill.

To make matters worse, the town folk of Sulphur Springs don’t look the same, and her classmates are a little dark in the eyes. There are murders, suicides, reckless skinny-dipping, gratuitous use of Q-tips, and newfound powers that Mikayla must learn to control.

Her past becomes present when a shape-shifter tells her what her true identity is, and how to keep the demons of Hell from nipping at her Converse. Through him she’ll discover who to trust, who to kiss, and how valuable her abilities are to the right beings. Because the evils of Hell aren’t staying down without a fight.

Or without her soul.

Why I Chose This:

For me, the cover was enough to reason to choose it. I know, I know. I’m a judgmental book chooser but what can I do? I love the sound of it! A normal girl in a not-so-normal story. I love books that fall under the paranormal romance genre (well, I guess most books that I’ve read.) To make things more exciting, this is actually a comedy too. Laughing and comedy are parts of my life as a Filipino. If you guys would visit here, one thing you’ll notice is that lots of people are smiling or laughing.

Angel Kiss by Laure Jane Cassidy
Publication Date: May 5, 2011
Published by: Puffin Books

Jacki King is fifteen and adjusting to her new life in a small village. She's missing Dublin but she's making new friends: artistic Colin, feisty Emily - and Nick, gorgeous yet unavailable. But no sooner is Jacki settled than the torturous headaches and nightmares begin - followed by strange visions, voices and signs...Jacki refuses to believe that something paranormal is happening. But then she discovers the unsolved murder that occurred in the village years before ...

Why I Chose This:

The title was actually the first thing that got my attention. I’m a big fan of angel fiction. But as I started to read the synopsis, I realized this isn’t about angels. But it’s about a girl having nightmares and visions – ESP more or less perhaps? – who is probably on her way to solving a crime that happened years ago. ESP, check. Unsolved crime, check. The dead talking, check. With these three things combined, how could I not want to read this?

The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen
Publication Date: june 1, 2011
Published by: Point

What if the characters in a vampire novel left their world--and came into yours?
Amy is in love with someone who doesn't exist: Alexander Banks, the dashing hero in a popular series of vampire novels. Then one night, Amy meets a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to Alexander. In fact, he IS Alexander, who has escaped from the pages of the book and is in hot pursuit of a wicked vampire named Vigo. Together, Amy and Alexander set out to track Vigo and learn how and why Alexander crossed over. But when she and Alexander begin to fall for each other, Amy wonders if she even wants him to ever return to the realm of fiction.

Why I Chose This:

After the book birthday of Twilight, came several vampire novels. Who hasn’t read a single vampire novel? Raise your hands please. Oh, no hands or a few hands maybe? Vampire novels have become a big part of the YA industry. This kind of twist, putting the characters of Amy’s fave vampire novel in her world, her reality, is something I’m eager to read. What would it be like for her and Alexander, knowing he is not supposed to be in her world and that he is more or less, a gorgeous fictional guy?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: Cryer's Cross by Lisa Mcmann

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read.
-Open to a random page.
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
-BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)  
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

A trapped soul waits for redemption.
It waits. And waits.
For her to take her last breath.

-p. 200, Cryer’s Cross by Lisa Mcmann

I like this part. This is one of the several…“snippets” that we get before every chapter, just like in Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves. The writing style reminds me of the Dream Catcher Series. But the writing in the novel itself is quite different. A little strange and repetitive which reflects the personality of the main character since she has OCD.

What’s your teaser?

Monday, January 24, 2011

YA in the Big Screen: Red Riding Hood

I actually didn’t know that Red Riding Hood was going to be a movie. I was unaware! But then…after mentioning the book to my friend, Brodie of Eleusinian Mysteries linked me to this awesome trailer.

Now, after watching that how could I not want to get a hold of a copy of Red Riding Hood?

Some of the things I liked in the trailer:

1.Upon clicking play, I could really sense this paranormal romance vibe in it.
2. I like how they really made it a point to have the perfect ‘Red Hood.’ Look at the color. It stands out amidst the snow and stuff.
3.Romance element. These are just snippets of the movie and yet these little scenes manage to get a hold of my heart and make me want to see more.
4. The wolf. I always read or watch werewolf novels and movies to see their interpretation of the ‘transformation.’ I hope I will like the transformation in this one.

Here's the description via Goodreads:
The body of a young girl is discovered in a field of wheat. Her flesh mutilated by telltale claw marks. The Wolf has broken the peace.

When Valerie learns that her sister has been killed by the legendary creature, she finds herself at the center of a dark mystery, one that has plagued her village for generations. It is revealed that the werewolf lives among them, and everyone in the village immediately becomes a suspect. Could her secret love Peter be behind the attacks on her town? Is it her betrothed, Henry? Or someone even closer to her?

As the men in the village hunt for the beast, Valerie turns to her grandmother for help. She gives Valerie a handmade red riding cloak, and guides her through the web of lies and deception that has held her town together for so long. Will Valerie discover the werewolf's identity before the town is ripped apart?

This is a dangerous new vision of a classic fairy tale, the happy ending could be hard to find.
  Do you like it too? Why or why not?