Thursday, May 24, 2012

Insurgent: A Review

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: May 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books by HarperCollins
Source: Library

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Genre: 2nd installment of Divergent series that is hugely popular. It’s YA, but when I get more specific than that, I feel like I’m giving something away…Eek. That normally doesn’t happen with me, as you all know.

Cover: I like her covers. They grab your attention, convey the book themes well, and are just eye-catching to me. I approve :)

Plot: Wow. Roller coaster, in the best way. It’s a thick book 400 pages +, but it’s worth the pages. There’s so much action stuffed in to these pages, it’s amazingly…active. My bestie texted me when she finished saying I had to read it NOW so she wouldn’t be suffering alone. Of course, she finished before I got my library copy, but when I was reading it, I texted her ranting about this scene and that scene—not that anything was bad. I just couldn’t believe all of the stuff happening. Like I said before, when I want to rant/dish/explain a book, something has gone horribly right.

Romantic Element: Sigh. I still love Four something ridiculous. The tattooed quiet type is something amazing to behold. Lol. It delivers here, in action packed, “Oh no!” ways.

Overall: It’s a good, solid series. Yes, it will leave you saying, when does that third one come out again? But that’s a good thing, right? If you haven’t read Divergent, get on it and join the rest of the reading world. We’re all talking about it and Insurgent. And yes, in case you were wondering, I’m sure it’s being made into a movie in the future, and I will have to see it for sure. 

Soooo? Have you read it? Are you going to? Let me know below so I know who I can talk to about its awesomeness, ending, and the love of all things Four…

Now, for a song to write by...I'm obsessed, and it might just work with this book. So here you go, "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood: A Review

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: 2011
Source: Library

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life

Genre: Paranormal, slightly romantic, ghost hunter, male POV YA

Cover: <3 works perfectly for this book. The dress, the hair, the color choices—all spot on. Doesn’t it make you want to pick it up and have a look? Worked for me.

Plot: Really original. I went into this a little leery. I get tired of paranormal quickly these days, unless it is done well and in an original fashion, and this hit both points. I also worried about it having a male POV, but Blake also handled that well with Cas. Nothing about this book is stereotypical, and that’s a breath of fresh air, let me tell you. For whatever reason, I hadn’t heard of this one, but I’m glad I picked it up. It moved well and had enough action, with a little romance thrown in.

Romantic Element: Like I said, it’s there, but it isn’t really the focus as much in the beginning. It almost is too light—or too abruptly involved, but it doesn’t quite go that far. It works, and it left room for a follow-up, as most YAs do. No real googley-eyed moments, but that wouldn’t fit in for this kind of book. I was satisfied overall with this light touch of romance.

Overall: If you were ever remotely interested in the YA ghost scene, this is one to read. It is fresh, reads cinematically, and is worth a perusal. And come on, how great is that title? I can dig it.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, “Lighthouse” by The Hush Sound, because it too involves ghosts, and I find it quite lovely. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dirty Little Secrets: A Review

Title: Dirty Little Secrets
Author: C. J. Omololu
Publication Date: Feb. 2, 2010
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Source: Library

Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.

Genre: Issue driven, daughter of a hoarder, contemporary YA

Cover: A little haunting, fitting for the macabre, tragic, yet realistic subject matter

Plot: So real. It moved. You felt for her, and my biggest test for if a plot worked is seeing whether or not I want to hold someone’s ear hostage and tell them every single detail about what happened. That is what happened with this book. It’s short, not sweet, realistic, dark, and moving. The pages turned themselves as you felt for Lucy, and it wasn’t just from the problems that arise with being the daughter of a hoarder; it was about the psychological ripple effect hoarding has on those who didn’t chose to live the life. And I would say more, but I will so not be accused of giving things away! :)

Romantic Element: It was present. It helped move the plot but wasn’t the focus. It was a motivator—an added stake

Overall: This book is a short read, and that read is worth it. I like that it doesn’t sugarcoat. It doesn’t pretty anything up. You end up wanting to read it because it feels like this story could and probably has happened. It’s like a new insight into untapped content—or really a new perspective on content.

Sooo? Have you read it? Are you going to? You should. Let me know below!

And, for the song to write by, I consulted the author, C.J. led me to her soundtrack, and I chose the following: “Island in the Sun” by Weezer.  :) <3

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Author Interview: Meredith Zeitlin

Hello all,

Today, I have a awesome author interview with Meredith Zeitlin, who wrote Freshmen Year and Other Unnatural Disasters. (Again, I <3 that title.) I reviewed the book (which is adorable), and you can read it here!

On to the fun....

  1. What made you start writing? I come from a family of writers, and it's always just been something I did. I used to write poems and stories, then in high school I wrote for the school paper and was eventually its Editor in Chief. In college I was in a twelve-person TV and Film writing program, and after I graduated I wrote reviews and op-ed pieces for a variety of papers and online "magazines." Freshman Year... is the first major project I ever completed and decided to move forward with, though.
  2. Do you listen to music while you write? Or do you have to complete quiet? OR something in between? When I'm in the "just dumping everything I can think of on the page" phase, I usually have the TV on or, if I'm in a hardcore writing mood, I listen to scores from musicals. My number one pick is "Once On This Island," by Ahrens and Flaherty. But when I'm polishing or editing, I need total silence to focus. 
  3. What has been your favorite moment so far since you’ve been published? (or that led up to you being published) Oh, there have been quite a few... I think the number one, though, happened at the book release party. I read an excerpt from the book, and I was really nervous, so I was totally concentrating on not falling over in a terrified heap. Then, at the key moment (a big reveal moment for Kelsey) every single person there - and there were about a hundred - gasped out loud, simultaneously. It was so spontaneous that it surprised everyone - especially me. I started giggling and couldn't stop. It was surreal and it was amazing.
  4. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’d give to a newbie YA writer? Write. Don't think about writing, or worry that it won't be good, or wait for the perfect time... just write. Write everything and don't censor yourself. THEN, when you have it all down, you can worry about what you've got. 
  5. If you had to choose a song to go with Freshmen Year and Other Unnatural Disasters, what would it be? "Upside Down," by Paloma Faith. It's like the song was written just for the book - listen to the lyrics!
Thank you SO much, Meredith. I loved hearing your answers, and great photo!

If you'd like to find out more about Meredith, check out her:

Facebook page

Also, in case your in short supply of interview with author's cats, you can find one with Meredith's cats below, along with Meredith's song of choice, aka your next "song to write by" of the day....

Cat Interview:

Meredith's song to write by:

Nice choice :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Freshmen Year and Other Unnatural Disasters: A Review

Title: Freshmen Year and Other Unnatural Disasters
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publication Date: March 2012
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Source: Given free copy in exchange for honest review

Blurb from Goodreads (which I do not own but am using for review purposes only---same goes for the photo above):

Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

Genre: Coming of age/dream to reborn into awesomeness during a summer break/ slightly romantic filled with angst contemporary, younger set YAà Did I say enough here? Sheesh…

Cover: Cutesy, fitting, and I watched the book trailer, which you can find below, that really fits the book well. The cover shows the younger, socially-stressed but always entertaining life of a teeny-bopper, as my mother would say.

Plot: Cute. Did I say cute? Makes you feel young (13-14 years old) again BUT with the addition of alcohol and hooking up. (Aka this is my warning for any moms out there. It’s there, written in as part of life, but isn’t the focus) Flows well. Follows Kelsey Finklestein basically for an entire school year. It may seem predictable at times, but it reads like a good movie for the younger angsty set. 

Romantic Element: It’s there. It’s fairly satisfying, but it’s not the focus. In fact, you don’t think you’re totally getting one as Kelsey tries on different crushes, dates, etc., but again, it’s there, and it’s cute. (Sorry for the redundancy, but if it fits, it fits…)

Overall: This book does everything I’d want a comedy/coming of age/big dreams for a little school year book to have. Kelsey is likeable, and her friends are multi-faceted. She can be vain, but a lot of being that involves that, doesn’t it? The book also has a family element, which I think people will appreciate, even if it is, too, angsty in the way only a younger teen’s family life can be. Basically, if you want to channel your inner, newly teenaged self, OR, if you want to give a rambunctious niece (who you’ve warned about drinking and/or hooking up) this is the book for you. 

Note: there was one joke that I wasn’t too fond of, but it could just be me being sensitive, but it doesn’t detract from the book, so have at it!

Also Note: Isn't the title some kind of adorable?

What do you all think? Sound like your cup o’ tea? Let me know below!

And instead of a song to write by, I leave you with the book trailer. Enjoy!