Friday, July 27, 2007

The Serpent and the Rose by Kathleen Bryan

This fantasy wasn't as good as The Name of the Wind or The Silver Ship and the Sea. Since I read those recently, I couldn't help comparing the three books. This one is medieval (kind of) and the princess has been with the nuns learning magic. A farmer boy has great magic but his mother wants him to stay on the farm. The two eventually meet and discover that together they have great power. They are attracted to each other, too, but won't do anything about it because society has no. She is a princess. He is godborn and lowly. This is the first of a series, so it doesn't really end. I'm not necessarily drawn to read book 2. So I won't.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Sure enough, I read this one in one day. Well, I finished at 3 am, so technically two days, but it was well worth the lack of sleep. Rowling is a genius. She managed to kill off tons of characters, but left our favorites alive and well. I knew the list of the dead would be long since Hedwig was knocked off at the very beginning. But the suspense was killing me--I had to figure out how it would end! I can't wait to re-read it when the movie comes out. Really, watching movie #5 and reading book #7 in one month was almost like overdosing. And if you haven't seen it already or if you're not a member of the brotherhood 2.0, watch this

Okay. Now. I didn't like the last chapter because it seemed un-Harry Potter-ish. I'm glad Neville finally showed his stuff. He's awesome. I love that Harry named one of his sons after Severus. That would definitely make another series. I like that Hermione and Ron got together. But who did Teddy grow up with? Harry was his godfather!

And the next line of the next Potter series is "His scar had recently begun to pain him." heehee

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

Supposedly this was published for adults but I don't buy it. It's buy MTV books and Baker and Taylor, amazon, and everyone says it's for teens. So maybe it's for teens over the age of 18? Is that it? It IS a young adult novel. Meredith has been sexually abused by her father. And he is coming back to her condo complex after three years in jail. That's right. Her mother is freaky and wants to start over and make a family. Have a new baby. Forget what happened. It's all Meredith's fault anyway. I mean, those other kids who were abused, had to be lying, right?

Meredith deals with it. She gets help from a cop in her neighborhood who gives her nanny cameras and her paralyzed boyfriend Andy, who was also abused by Meredith's father.

This one is DRAMA and SUSPENSE and WHOA. Be prepared to sit and read until you finish it!

Gatsby's Girl by Caroline Preston

I'm proud to be a Fitzgerald nut. In high school I gobbled up The Great Gatsby and proceeded to read everything that was ever written by him. I even read Zelda's interesting novel and her letters to Scott. Whoa.

So I gobbled up this fictionalized account of Ginerva, the girl who Scott loved and lost when he was in college. Ginerva was the basis for many of the fickle girls in his novels and short stories, and this account makes everything seem really believable. Ginerva really did meet Zelda years later at the Chicago World's Fair and Scott really did have all of Ginerva's letters bound so he could save them. Weird.

I recommend this to any Fitzgerald lover which means any Jazz Age lover. I also found the Chicago references interesting since I recognized a lot of the places Ginerva visits. The paperback copy of the book I read included a reader's guide in the back with discussion questions.

Flawless: a Pretty Little Liars Novel by Sara Shepard

I didn't read the first one in the series, and probably won't. But I will buy this series for my high school because the fans of Gossip Girl and the A-List will love it. And I like that there is a mystery and a murder or two thrown in so I can recommend this to girls who are looking for a mystery but don't like adult titles yet.

Basically, picture The Gossip Girls. Four friends who are snotty, rich, skinny, and almost perfect do everything their ringleader Allison tells them to do. But she ends up missing a few months after a late-night prank. The girls still swear to keep the secret about the prank and go their separate ways. Three years later, Allison's dead body turns up and the girls have to come together to unite against the mysterious -A who is sending them scary text messages. "A" knows all their secrets. How are they going to escape from A? When she/he dies? But just when they think everything will improve, A sends one more message.

You'll have to read Perfect, #3 in the series, to see how it ends.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez

Heehee. I'm still chuckling over this one. The author of Gil's All Fright Diner has entertained me again. In this one, the nameless witch is born with a curse, grows up in a basement and is finally rescued by a witch. The girl is beautiful, sexy, smart, witchly (I love how the author used that word) talented, and soaks up everything from the old witch. In true fantasy fashion, there's a quest, some perils, an awesome familiar (a talking, blood-thirsty duck), a cool troll, and the White Knight. And oh, baby, is he ever a White Knight. The girl witch has a lot of decisions to make. She has to avenge a death, save her world from an evil sorcerer, and try to decide to love the White Knight or eat him. Hmmm.....

The Kings of New York: a year among the geeks, oddballs, and geniuses who make up America's top high school chess team by Michael Weinreb

I can't believe I actually finished a book about chess. I wasn't really interested in this one, read the first chapter, and wanted to know more. Here's the thing: the author makes me likes these kids. I kept referring back to the photograph in the beginning of the chess team with George Bush and figuring out which was which kid. They are so dorky, but their back stories are fascinating. This Murrow school in NYC had one cool teacher who built this team into something spectacular. What I love most about it is that the kids are so multinational. The team isn't a bunch of WASPs. In fact, I don't remember a WASP being on the team. I didn't know about the chess culture other than what I remember seeing when I walked by a room in St. Louis hotel where a tournament was taking place. I thought, "what a bunch of dorks." And, I think I was right. But, Weinreb is such a good writer that he makes chess interesting.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I admit it. I cried about Mariam. No sobbing, but there were definitely tears forming and pooling a bit as I stayed up until 3 am to finish this novel. It was great, just like The Kite Runner, but I do have one complaint that I have to voice. I felt like, oh-no-another-Muslim-suffering-girl-behind-the-burkha story. I mean, it seems I've read tons of these in the past few years, both fiction and non-fiction, so I wasn't exactly thrilled about reading another one. Of course, Hosseini writes so well, he makes a story about poor downtrodden women in the Middle East sound like something new. Please don't think I'm cruel or don't understand the situation of women over there. I'm sick of I-can't-make-the-teenage-boy-like-me books, too.

The Silver Ship and the Sea by Brenda Cooper

Chelo is altered, one of six young people on the planet who have extraordinary powers. They are just learning to figure out what those powers are though, the humans are scared. It turns into a survival coming-of-age story and all the young people are forced to make life-changing decisions. The landscape is described beautifully and the plot moves along at a great pace. I LIKED the characters (except for the pesky Alicia) and have quite the crush on Liam.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

You can’t beat a futuristic adult novel about an exorcist. Really, Felix Castor is one cool guy. He plays his tin whistle and somehow sends ghosts and otherworldly creatures somewhere (he has no idea where). But this case is difficult for him. A Russian girl is dead and haunting an old museum. Why? And how did a pimp, a werewolf-ish scary beast, a sexy cataloger and one hot succubus get involved?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson

Has any other person in the world read a book by Chuck Palahnuik and Melody Carlson in the same day? What a switch!

This chick lit, slightly Christian adult novel is an easy, fast read. Cassidy is 31 years old, loses her boyfriend and her job, and decides to move back home. But her 55 year old mother is gorgeous, slim, and dating a boy a year older than Cassidy. Whoa. Talk about life-changing moments. Cassidy has to figure out who she likes, how she wants to spend the rest of her life, and keep a level, sane head. It's a cute, fun feel-good book.

Rant: an Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

I wasn't looking forward to this one because I've never read anything by Chuck, but have heard a lot about him. Now I'm not sure what to think. He's a gifted writer, that's for sure. And he has some crazy ideas. The first hundred pages of this adult novel absolutely rocked. I was laughing. I was adding quotes from Echo onto my MySpace page. But then I finished the book and I wasn't too impressed. It went downhill for me.

Basically, Rant Casey grew up strange. His mother puts thumbtacks and other sharp objects in her baked goods. He likes to get stung by poisonous animals to feel the euphoria and stiffness in certain parts of his body. But people die around him. He gets rabies. Then 50 girls in town get it, too, because Buster Casey is pretty irresistible. Next thing you know, this futuristic world has an epidemic of drooling, blood-thirsty people who all have one thing in common. Buster. But, boy, this novel is strange. Was it worth reading? Yes. Will I read Chuck's next book? Probably. But if it disappoints me, then I'm done with this author.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Prisoner of Tehran: a memoir by Marina Nemat

This is the autobiography of an Iranian girl who was sentenced to death for telling her Calculus teacher to teach Calculus instead of politics. For two years when she was a prisoner in the notorious Evin prison. She was incredibly lucky (maybe). An important interrogator fell in love with her and offered to marry her. She agreed since it was her only choice, was repeatedly raped by her new husband, but eventually grew to care for him. But then he's assassinated and she's back to prison. If not for her husband's family, she never would have been released. Eventually she marries the man she loved before entering prison and emigrates to Canada to tell her story.

This is definitely a memoir for my high school library because we need more tales from the Mideast. Nemat is a strong female, but she had to deal with an oppressive government. She does a great job explaining the various revolutions that took place in Iran in the 20th century. I'm not sure if this is the type of book I could recommend to just anyone, but it's a memorable read.

Monday, July 2, 2007

How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls by Zoey Dean

I have to admit I'm a closet A-List fan. So I was anxious to read this ARC that I picked up at the ALA conference. I sped through it in one night and it's an easy chick lit read, but nothing to get excited about.

Megan Smith wants to be a serious writer but after graduating from Yale ends up at Scoop magazine, writing about Jessica Simpson's new hair-do. Her boss knows she isn't where she wants to be, and offers her a position as a teacher to two rich twins in Palm Beach for 8 weeks. She has to get the girls into Duke and that means getting a decent score on the SAT. Basically, Megan is a Cinderella girl when the gay guy fixes her up with Chanel and Gucci and she even falls for the sexy guy next door. Because it's chick lit, everything works out in the end.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Whoa. First of all, the cover of my book doesn't have Koethe on the cover, just a picture of a mask surrounded by leaves.

This is the best fantasy tome I've read in years, even if it is 662 pages long. It's worth it. This is so original and I can't believe a first-time novelist came up with so many original ideas. It's wonderful and refreshing!

Koethe is telling his story to a Chronicler. And what a story it is. He's the son of traveling troopers and learns the ways of the stage, memorization, and story telling when he is a toddler. His first teacher is an arcanist, who teaches him medicine, binding spells, and magic. Koethe handles devastation well, and, like any hero, is sorely tested and has his share of heartache and disaster. But he makes it to the University, makes some good friends, meets a girl, and continues his adventure of his life. This is the first book of a trilogy and I can't wait until the second one comes out!