Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Release Halloween Book Review: Steelheart

Title: Steelheart (Book 1 in the Reckoners series)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 13
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

         Halloween is quickly approaching, bringing along costumes, pumpkins, and (the best part) candy.  This year, I've been getting into the spooky spirit through reading, as well as decorating.  I am currently reading Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson.  Steelheart is great because it has the superhero plot line of a comic book and the character development of a novel.

       When Calamity strikes, the post-apocalyptic United States is divided up and taken over by various Epics.  Epics are super villains with unique powers such as invincibility, illusion, and super strength.  One Epic, named Steelheart, takes over David's town and kills thousands of innocent bystanders, including David's father.  Seeking revenge, David joins a band of rebels called the Reckoners, Epic assasinators.  He must determine whether humans will ever have a chance to take back their country by attempting to defeat the all-powerful and practically invincible Epic, Steelheart.
Steelheart's alternate cover

       Steelheart especially appeals to males because the main character, David, is an eighteen year old man.  He tells his tale of seeking revenge in a masculine perspective, but the story includes a number of strong female characters as well.  David is rescued numerous times by an Epic-fighting, gun-wielding powerhouse named Megan.  Both boys and girls will enjoy reading Steelheart because of the wide variety of characters and personalities.  

       Although this book follows a superhero and super villain theme, it also includes a great deal of comedy.  David, a very nerdy and awkward character who has to grow into his personality throughout the novel,  loves to create hilarious puns that don't always make sense but are very comedic.  For example, David describes Diamond the gun dealer by saying, "He had a smile like a parrot fish, which I've always assumed look like parrots, though I've never actually seen either" (143).  David has exceptional insight into situations, but he cannot always formulate what he is trying to say, which makes reading his speeches very funny.

       Halloween's not just about the ghosts and the goblins - superheros  and villains are some of the most popular costumes for 2013.   Steelheart got me into the Halloween mood because of it's action-packed scenes of superheros and super villains battling it out.  Make sure you put Steelheart on your reading list because it is sure to become a big hit.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: The Hunger Pains

The Hunger Pains
Title: The Hunger Pains
Author: The Harvard Lampoon
Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Parody
Pages: 157
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 14 due to inappropriate references
My Opinion: 7/10

Hi, Readers!

       Calling all Hunger Games fans.  The Hunger Pains, written by the widely acclaimed Harvard Lampoon, gives new life to the story of Katniss Everdeen.  Except her name is Kantkiss Neverclean.  That right there should give you an idea of how absurd this book is.

       Kantkiss Neverclean of the telemarketing District 12 does not volunteer as tribute for the Hunger Games, a top rated reality television show.  Instead, she is tricked into volunteering for the vicious games, alongside tribute Pita Malarkey.  Kantkiss is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and she somehow narrowly escapes death many times due to her stupidity.  The entire novel shares a plot line with The Hunger Games, but each element of the story is made into a hilarious parody.  For example, instead of Peeta camoflauging himself as a rock, Pita Malarkey turns himself into a giant wedding cake in the middle of the forest.  Of course, Kantkiss doesn't notice until the cake blinks.  The random humor thrown into The Hunger Pains makes each and every sentence unique and comical.  Below is the YouTube trailer for the book.

       One of my favorite parts of the book was the creative way that the authors changed the characters' names.  Katniss Everdeen is now Kantkiss Neverclean.  Peeta Mellark is Pita Malarkey.  Gale Hawthorne is Carol Handsomestein.  Foxface is Dogface.  Every time a new character is introduced, I had to giggle because of their fun names.

       My least favorite aspect of the book was the depiction of Kantkiss's love triangle with Pita and Archie Nemesis (similar to Cato in the original books).  Kantkiss falls in love with Archie Nemesis, but he is actually trying to kill her and she is so dumb that she doesn't even know.  At the same time, she likes Pita because of all of his gross and unattractive characteristics.  Kantkiss is a hilarious character to read about, but her mind works in strange ways when it comes to love.
A map of Peaceland,
comparable to Panam of The Hunger Games

       I recommend The Hunger Pains to all Hunger Games fans.  If you did not enjoy the Hunger Games or have not read it, then this book is not for you because you will not understand the funniest jokes and plot twists.  This book reminds me of an inside joke - it is super duper funny if you know what it is about, but not so great if you aren't in the know.  I am an avid Hunger Games fan, and The Hunger Pains made me laugh out loud on almost every single page.

Happy reading!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

A to Z Survey

Hi, Readers!

       I was recently exploring some other Young Adult book blogs, and I found a neat post by Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner.  She created an A to Z Survey about books that she has read, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try.  Each book that I mention in this survey has a link to Amazon Books.  Just click on the title for more information.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Rick Riordan.  His mythological novels about Greek and Egyptian mythology, such as the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, are all page turners.  It impresses me how Rick Riordan is able to write about relatable teenagers having out-of-this-world adventures while keeping the novels historically accurate.

Best Sequel Ever:

Catching Fire, Book 2 in the Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins.  I actually think that this book is better than both the first and the third novels.  The arena is much more exciting, and the characters have more in-depth relationships.  Plus, Katniss is not scared out of her mind all of the time.  Can't wait for the movie!

Catching Fire

Currently Reading:

OCD, the Dude, and Me, by Lauren Roedy Vaughn.  It is written in the form of essays and diary entries, and the main character's voice really shines through the writing.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

WATER!  Gotta stay hydrated.  I actually prefer to have a snack while I am reading, and I need something tasteless to wash it down.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical book.  I am a hater of E-readers.  What if technology failed and I was left with no books to read?  I guess I just like to hoard the actual books in my room.  Turning the pages of a book is part of the reading experience.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Been Friends With In High School:

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series.  Although she is a bit of a know-it-all (see bleow), she always excels in her academics and likes to participate in school events, such as starting her own club for House Elf rights.  Plus, she is super loyal to Harry Potter throughout all of the novels.  She sounds like a great friend.  And by the way, I have the same middle name as Hermione!


Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Giver, by Lois Lowry.  This title is older and a school required reading book, so I figured it would be boring.  However, the plot line is ingenious.

Hidden Gem Book:

Dream Factory.  I reviewed this book a little while ago.  Click here to check it out.  The characters in Dream Factory all have realistic quirks, and the plot line is fabulous.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

When I actually like reading a school required novel.  It doesn't happen often.  I enjoyed reading Lord of the Flies, and I also liked The River King.

Just Finished:

School Spirits, by Rachel Hawkins.  A monster-fighting teen attending public high school for the first time ever makes a great back-to-school book.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Non-fiction!  That's what the Internet is for.  Just kidding, but I don't ever look in the non-fiction section for books.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling.  870 pages of pure reading bliss.  Even if this book was one million pages, I still would have read it in a day.

Major book hangover because of:

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  This book is so haunting that it kept me up until midnight just thinking about the world.

Book Hangover

Number of Bookcases You Own:

One and a half.  One is mine, and one I share.  The books on the shared bookcase are all for younger readers, so they have been untouched for quite a long time.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton.  My grandmother's friend brought me this book from England when I was probably 8 years old, and it's stories are so silly that I could read them over and over again.

Preferred Place To Read:

Somewhere new.  I love reading in different places.  If I randomly disappear one afternoon, it is probably because I have found new place to read.  By a pool, on a rock, in the guest bedroom, etc.  Also, I read in bed every night.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

"The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones."
- Joseph Joubert


Reading Regret:

That all books aren't movies.  If I read a book that I love, I want to see how other people would adapt it into a movie.  I like seeing the cast of characters and comparing it to the visions I have in my head.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

A lot.  I will read the first book in a series, tell myself to put the next book on hold at the library, and then completely forget about it.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

The Fablehaven series, by Brandon Mull.  Best series ever.  More people should read it because it is awesome.  These two kids visit their grandparent's secret preserve for magical creatures.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Independent Study, by Joelle Charbonneau, the sequel to The Testing.  It is coming out this fall!


Worst Bookish Habit:

Flagging the pages of books.  I feel awful when I do it, but I never have a bookmark handy.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow.  I actually lost the dust cover on this book, so it just has a red hardcover.

Your latest book purchase:

Divergent, by Veronica Roth.  I don't usually buy books, but this one is a keeper.  Libraries are the way to go for books that I haven't read before.  Check out my review of Divergent by clicking here.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Every single book that I read!  Whenever I tell myself, "I will read one more page and then go to bed", I usually end up reading another chapter before realizing my mistake.


Hope you enjoyed reading this A to Z Survey.  All of the books that I mentioned are some of the best ones that I have recently read, and I recommend that you read them as well.

Read on,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book Review: The Originals

The Originals
Title: The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Science fiction
Pages: 304
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 10
My Opinion: 3/10

Hi, Readers!

       As soon as I read the description on the inside cover of The Originals, I was super excited to start reading.  The plot line seemed to have so much potential.  However, although this book deals with the prevalent social issue of cloning in a completely fresh way, I was disappointed at the lack of character development.  What could have been a great YA novel has joined the ranks of average teen reads.  I don't ususally write negative reviews, but I want to recommend some novels by Cat Patrick that you could read in place of The Originals to save yourself the disappointment.

       Lizzie Best is a seventeen year old clone.  Her mother forces her to split a single identity with her two cloned "siblings", Ella and Betsey, because cloning is illegal.  The three girls split up a school day into three parts in order to pose as a single person, Elizabeth Best, to avoid being discovered by the government.  After over ten years of living as one, they grow weary of being cooped up in their home all day long waiting for a chance to attend school.  As soon as Lizzie falls for a boy named Sean Kelly that she meets at school, she considers sharing her secret with him.  At the same time, the girls' mother is keeping secrets behind their backs.  Lizzie has to discover what her mother is up to, as well as navigate her rocky relationship with Sean, in order to gain the opportunity to have her own identity.

       Doesn't that sound like such a fabulous plot line?  Well, divide the story up into eighty percent boy drama and only twenty percent excitement.  The twenty percent of the book containing cloning, a secretive and mysterious mother, and an identity crisis is why I was interested in The Originals.  I certaintly did NOT read it for the boy drama.  I believe that this novel is advertised for the wrong audience, with its futuristic cover and science fiction/dystopian description.  Cutting to the core of the novel, The Originals is basically a romance novel filled with pages upon pages of Lizzie worrying that Sean will not like her.

       I was deeply disappointed with the ending of The Originals as well.  The secret that Lizzie's mother figure has been hiding throughout the novel is finally revealed in an extremely anticlimactic way.  Only about three pages are devoted to tying up loose ends that were crucial to the plot line.  Couldn't the author spare a little more time on the ending, which is possibly the most important part of the novel?

Forgotten, Revived
Forgotten and Revived are better
choices to read than The Originals
       Cat Patrick's other novels are written at a higher standard than The Originals was.  I am not quite sure why this novel lacked suspense and excitement, because I read Revived, by Cat Patrick, and I enjoyed it.  The characters in Revived are much deeper, struggling with cancer and fitting in.  The summary of Cat Patrick's novel Forgotten also looks intriguing.  I would recommend checking out Revived or Forgotten instead of The Originals.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-Offs

Hi, Readers!

Top Ten Tuesday       This Tuesday, The Broke and the Bookish blog challenged readers to write a list of their Top Ten Book Turn-Offs.  Usually, I post about books that I enjoy reading and what makes them good.  This post is a bit different: I am writing about what I can't stand when reading.  It was easier to create this list than I expected, which is weird because I like almost every single book that I lay eyes on.  The books that I mention in this post are not necessarily bad, but they do have certain aspects that really get on my nerves.  Click on a title for more information about it on Amazon Books or to one of my book reviews if applicable.

1. Dual narration
Witch and Wizard
Books that are told by multiple characters flat-out confuse me.  Even when the author switches between fonts to distinguish the narrators, it is still hard to follow who is telling the story.  Occasionally, certain authors are able to pull off the difficult writing style, such as Marie Lu in Legend.  Other authors tend to transition awkwardly between scenes or branch into two separate plot lines.

 Sorry, James Patterson... but Witch and Wizard would have been so much better if only one of the two siblings was the narrator.

2. Boy-crazy female narrators
I love reading books that have strong female protagonists.  Look at Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, and Tris Prior.  One of the best aspects of these teens is that they are able to balance their crazy adventures with their love lives.  When a female narrator relies too much on Prince Charming to help solve all of her drama, the novel immediately turns sour.

Sorry, Stephenie Meyer... but Bella Swan from Twilight was a tad bit too boy crazy to handle, and she relied on vampires and werewolves to do the dirty work for her.  Just pick Jacob and forget about Edward.  Problem solved.  Go, Team Jacob!

3. Sequels
The Giver Series
Has anybody else noticed that pretty much every single book that has been published in the last two years is the first of a series?  I thought so.  It's crazy that no author is able to create characters and formulate a plot line in one book.  So many of the books that I read lead to sequels.  I lose track and forget about them until a few years later, and at that point, I don't remember what the books were about in the first place.  My message to authors is to quit while you're ahead.

Sorry, Lois Lowry... but why can't The Giver be a stand-alone novel?  Three other linked stories just make the original seem cheap.

4. Pictures in chapter books

The key word in Young Adult Books is adult.  It's not Young Tween Books.  Adult.  That means the days of picture books are over and done.  Aside from being childish, unnecessary, and wasting precious page space, pictures can tint the images of characters in the reader's mind.  It is always fun to imagine how characters would look, so illustrators should not have to do it for us.

Sorry, Brandon Mull... but Fablehaven did not need those illustrations.  I really love the series and it is one of my all-time favorites, but come on!  Pictures were not necessary.

5. Mentions of technology
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

One of the absolute best parts of Harry Potter is that J.K. Rowling abstained from mentioning technology in the wizarding world.  She realized that bringing up technology would add a cheap tone to the books and allow them to become quickly outdated.  Books that mention the new iPhone go out of date just as quickly as did the ones filled with cassettes, VHS tapes, and CDs.  There is no chance that a book will ever be considered a classic if it mentions technology because readers in a few years will have no idea what  the author is talking about.

Sorry, Rachel Harris, but My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century did not have to repeatedly mention that Cat Crawford uses an iPhone.  Sometimes specific details are not a good thing.

6. Time jumps/Flashbacks
When We Wake

Similar to duel narration, time jumps and flashbacks are not always successful in Young Adult literature.  Most of the time, they just get on my nerves and confuse me about what is going on.  Time jumps into the future are the worst because they prove that the main character survives their adventure.  There goes all of the suspense.

Sorry, Karen Healey... but When We Wake's pointless and unnecessary time jumps into the future did not add to the story line in the slightest.  The changes in time actually gave away silly things, like the fact that Tegan Oglietti manages to escape her enemies.

7. Cheating in relationships
Going Vintage

This may seem cliche, but I like it when books end with a Happily Ever After moment.  The girl and the guy should end up together.  That's just how books work.  They make you feel good about the world.  Therefore, when there is cheating involved in a relationship and it is doomed to fail, I feel sad as a reader.  The only time that cheating should be allowed in books is if that is the main subject.

Sorry, Lindsey Leavitt... but Going Vintage would have been so much better if Mallory had gone vintage without being cheated on by her scummy boyfriend.  I enjoyed reading this book and even included it in a Back-to-School Books post, but sometimes I wonder if Mallory would have still had her adventure if she was not going through a break-up.

8. When the main character is not the same gender as the author

No matter how much we try, girls cannot understand the minds of boys, and visa versa.  Authors should not even bother to try what the entire world has failed at.  If I read a book that is about a male character but is written by a female author, I can immediately tell because the boy does not sound realistic.

Exception: Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld. Kudos for capturing the workings of the female mind.  Scott Westerfeld completely understands the distinction of being "pretty", and creates a series filled with completely relatable but futuristic content.

9. End of a good series (*Spoiler Alert*)

Although I said before in #3 that I don't like sequels, I still love certain series.  The end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made me want to cry.  Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, their kids going to Hogwarts... picture perfect.

Sorry, Suzanne Collins... but sending Gale away to work for the rebels at the end of Mockingjay is not a solution.  Katniss should have had to work things out between Gale and Peeta, like the strong woman that she had become.  She got an easy pass.

10. Grammatical errors

Grammatical errors are my biggest pet peeve!  I assume that at least a few people proof-read books before they are put into print and sold around the entire world.  How is it possible to misspell a word or to forget a comma when you know that millions of people will read your book and notice every mistake?

Sorry, Martin Leicht and Isla Neal... but I noticed that there was a wrong verb tense on the FIRST PAGE of Mothership.  It should be "was", not "were".  Check out the error that I found by clicking here and going to "Look inside".  Although I really couldn't get over the verb tense issue, I did enjoy the book as a whole.  See my complete book review here.

       Clearly, I am a pretty picky reader.  The list of the ten book turn-offs above is just a fraction of what gets on my nerves when I am reading.  Why so picky, you ask?  Because I have read certain works of literature (*cough* Harry Potter *cough*) that are exceptional and have not enraged, angered, annoyed, or frustrated me in any way.  Feel free to comment about your own personal book turn-offs below.

Happy Reading!