Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter (ATWT)

 
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Graphia; (April 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0152066497
ISBN-13: 978-0152066499

 It’s the summer before senior year and Polly Martin has sworn off boys. Who needs the hurt and confusion? Five recent breakups have left her with an unnatural knowledge of NASCAR, the ultimate hiker’s outfit, a student council position, the sixth highest score on the Donkey Kong machine at the mall, and a summer job at Wild Waves with ex #2 Sawyer Holmes.
Success seems a sure thing when Polly’s grandmother, the syndicated advice columnist, Miss Swoon, moves in for the summer. Polly almost doesn’t mind sharing a room with her little sister, Grace. Think of all the great advice she’ll get!
Everything is going according to plan except... Miss Swoon turns out to be a man-crazy septuagenarian! And then there’s Xander Cooper. If only he wouldn’t keep showing up at Wild Waves with his adorable cousins every afternoon — and what is he writing in that little notebook?
No advice column in the world can prepare Polly for the lessons she learns when she goes on a group camping trip (with three too many ex-boyfriends). Polly is forced to see people for who they are — a blend of good and bad qualities that can’t be reduced to a list or a snappy answer in a Miss Swoon column. 

Review:

The multitude of ex's hasn't really sunk in for Polly yet. When she gets stuck with a job with ex #2 Sawyer, she finally sees how dating the most active people in her junior year might just backfire. Active meaning that, for each one of them she's had to do something in order to keep up with what they were interested in, and mold herself to keep them interested in her. Having enough with the male species for a while, Polly wishes to disconnect herself from the testosterone population. Being focused on work because of the amount of bills piling up and having her "Miss Swoon" advice columnist grandmother in the house seem like perfect ways to distract herself. However, when she starts to get the feeling that "Miss Swoon" doesn't heed her own advice, and her mother takes a job at the Hamburger Heaven--local burger joint that Polly's friends populate frequently--she finds that she needs to escape from her own life in order to feel any semblance of control. Xander Cooper's hot new appearance plans to splash that thought out of the water.

Knowing that any relationship with Xander Cooper can only end up with more activities and her than she can handle, Polly chooses to distance her as much as her hormones deem possible. When she starts seeing him more and more frequently with his nieces and nephews and her Wild Waves job, she realizes that avoiding him will be more difficult than she ever thought.

Swoon at Your Own Risk was more of an enjoyable and touching story to read than I ever expected it to be. SAYOR was a lighthearted, psychological read of the common household missing a male-father figure. Polly's way of pushing away anyone that tried to get close enough to see under the surface was well interpreted and had a meaningful understanding when you see how tough of a childhood she experienced. Salter's writing of Polly's experiences when life gets too complicated dealing so many of her ex's was well-crafted and developed into the harsh tale of how Polly deals with such situations. Running away and hiding her problems behind jokes seemed common for her, pushing away from her loved ones looked like second-nature. When a new character breaks into the mix, he doesn't seem to faze Polly at first. Finding that he has his own issues somehow makes her slowly realize her mistakes and regrets. Polly's wide-ranged knowledge, vocabulary words, and charismatic-positive attitude developed her character in the book progressively.

SAYOR is recommended with the heartiest of character revelations.

Grade: A-

LiLi

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs (Traveling ARC Tours)

Published: June 1st 2010 by Katherine Tegen Books
Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN-10: 0061914657
ISBN-13: 978-0061914652

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.
When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.


Review:

For the first fourteen years of her life, Lily lived underwater in her father's palace being the princess of Thalassinia. Having only just recently found out that her mother was human, Lily decides to take the opportunity of living on land with her aunt and going to high school. There she finds the interesting and telltale ways of the human world and falls into step with appointed label freak in her high school crowd. With a neighbor--Quince--that bothers and tricks mercilessly, Lily resorts to her usual relaxation of sea salt water baths whenever possible. When the Spring Fling roles around, she knows that the three years she's been on land have not been for waste. Cue Brody Bennett, the swimmer and techie that steals Lily's heart without a second-thought. Only, when word gets around that Bennett might be going stag, Quince deceives a plan of sorts to get Lily and Brody together during the dance. When somewhere along the way, a slight change in the plan leaves Lily with way more consequences than she predicted, a journey is set after a kiss is stolen, to unwind a bond that's said to create massive changes for both sides of the party.

I grew to enjoy Lily's thoughtless character and her slight comical attitude quickly as the book progressed. The pranks and stunts Quince devised her humorous and kept me entertained when he not-so-subtly tried to get in the way of Lily's unhidden love for Brody. The real twist that happened during Lily's high school's Spring Fling is what really set the plot, characters and all-around fantasy aspect in the book into action. I thoroughly enjoyed Lily's under-the-sea references, and couldn't have imagined a character more spirited to be what she was clearly born to be. Moreover, as the book kept having it's minor twists and turns to keep you on your feet, the somewhat predictable ending was not to be overdone. However, when I finally got to the last few chapters, I believed that the author was trying a bit too hard to get the characters where she thought they should go. The epilogue in particular left me flat-out stupefied as to how, at all, that was a good way to end such a great, aspiring tale. From the looks of it, it seemed to have been hinting that there will be a sequel because I could not, for the love of me, find that particularly necessary for any other reason.

With most of its scenes jam-packed with cute dialogue and description, I cannot stop myself from recommending Forgive My Fins to contemporary-fantasy readers who really love lover's quarrels when it hits bookstores in June.

Grade: B-

LiLi

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman (ATWT)

Published: April 12th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 0316004030
ISBN13: 9780316004039

When Jacob’s foster father whispers, “You are indestructible” seconds before dying in a car crash that should’ve killed them both, Jacob never imagines he could possess a real superpower. To test it Jacob and his friends start indulging comic book-like fantasies. Later, they commit to use this amazing power of indestructibility to do good in the world and save others from death. But how do they decide who to save? And what happens when they blur the lines of life and death, right and wrong, and good and evil? Thirteen Days to Midnight is a nail-biting tale of dark intrigue, powerful romance, friendship and adventure.

Review:

Jacob has secrets. Secrets you'd never be able to guess, let alone begin to guess at unless he told you. If you're his best friend or his girlfriend, then at least you know the basics of the Black Lion. Being able to escape death time and time again is not a gift, not even when you are able to pass that power to someone in danger. Karma always comes back to bite you in the butt. When Ophelia James first comes into the picture right after a majorly tragic event in Jacob's life, he doesn't believe he could be this lucky. Who is this stunning girl who should be in South Cal, but appears out of nowhere in Salem, Oregon? Knowing he has a deeper connection with Oh, Jacob takes a chance with both Milo and Oh when nothing happened to her after she took a serious face-plant tripping off her long board. Knowing something was wrong from the start, Jacob dismissed many things to please Oh, and actually try to save some lives with his dark ability. Only has it becomes harder to do, Jacob begins noticing changes with his power--whenever it comes back in or goes out again--Oh becomes increasingly severe. What effects is Jacob's power having on Oh? What depths will he go to when the real rules of his ability are revealed and finds out it may just be too late?

Even though I read YA, Thirteen Days to Midnight was new territory for me. I took a chance with this one, and was in the end greatly satisfied. While I haven't read any earlier works of Patrick Carman, I plan to look into his other works that have been labeled with high praise, and trying out the ones that haven't--though I don't there are many. Thirteen Days to Midnight is basically a dark, edgy superhero portrayal that floods over with sarcastic humor.Throughout the moments of suspense in the novel, I'd get really frustrated when I had to put it down. The morbid dialogue and thrilling scenes were very much enjoyed and resulted in some serious nail-biting. This may be going a little overboard but, at one point, I thought I'd really punch someone if I didn't at least get to a lull. (Which were rare and far in-between). Patrick Carman has some serious tricks up his sleeves as a writer, making up characters and a plotline that leaves you at the edge of your seat just itching to know what's going to happen next.

Definitely recommended to readers of all aspiring ages that enjoy a trying-to-save-the-world novel with a serious twist.

Grade: A

Find out more about author Patrick Carman:

LiLi

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti (ATWT)

Published: May 4th 2010 by Viking Juvenile
Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN: 0670011460
ISBN13: 9780670011469

Lani and Erin are bonded for life. One thing that connects them is their fascination of fate. Lani wonders how much of our lives has already been decided and how much we can actually influence. Since the Unknown can unexpectedly change our lives forever, how much can we really control?

From the minute Lani meets Jason, she can't deny the intense connection they share. It feels like she's known him forever. She's not sure if he feels it, too. But it doesn't matter. Because Jason is Erin's boyfriend. Lani is determined to ignore her feelings for Jason, no matter how powerful they are, rather than risk hurting her best friend.


How long can Lani keep running from the boy who might be her destiny?

Review:

Lani's always been too hard on herself. As if running One World wasn't enough to save the planet, Lani actually likes riding her bike than she does driving a car. Lani's the type of person who's real. She gets things like fate, astrological signs, tarot reading, and mixes them into the outcome that will be your life. She doesn't like the Unknown, but who does? So when she feels this instant attraction for her best friend's boyfriend--Jason--what's girl a to do but follow her fate. No matter how hard she fights it, Jason seems to show up every where she looks; not being very easy to avoid--Jason or her feelings. During the summer, while Erin is away for two months being a counselor at camp, Lani and Jason are left alone. With potential love in the air, Lani's dreading the day when school starts and Erin comes back. How can you break it to a friend that saved your life, that you think you're falling in love with her boyfriend?

I read The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott not to long ago, and had to immediately relate how comparable both of these two books themes were. I don't know if the two authors had the been sharing ideas or it was just a weird coincidence, but I have to say that they both managed to create characters with their own unique personalities that each support their background. I haven't read many books by Colasanti, but Something Like Fate will definitely be memorable. I loved how Lani was always sure of herself and who she was. Her fascination with saving the planet and fate was adorable and compelling at the same time. The constant similarities between Jason and Lani was cute and the relationship she had with Erin was deep. However, when it came to the very end, Lani's need for Erin's forgiveness left Lani looking like a toddler seeking approval. All in all, Colasanti did great job of incorporating the struggle to keep your feelings bottled up and the pain that ensues when they're revealed.

Grade: B+

LiLi

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For Keeps by Natasha Friend (Book It Forward Tours)

Published: April 6th 2010 by Penguin Group USA
Hardcover, 272 pages
ISBN: 0670011908
ISBN13: 9780670011902
 
For sixteen years, Josie Gardner and her mom, Kate, have been a team. It’s been the Gardner Girls against the world, and that’s how Josie likes it. Until one day, in the pet food aisle of Shop-Co, they run into the parents of Paul Tucci, Kate’s high school boyfriend—the father Josie has never met. If Mr. and Mrs. Tucci are back in town, it’s only a matter of time until Paul shows up. Suddenly Josie’s mature, capable mother regresses to the heartbroken teenager she was when Paul moved away. Meanwhile, Josie’s on the verge of having her first real boyfriend, while her free-loving best friend, Liv, begins yet another no-strings-attached fling. When Josie learns some surprising truths about Paul Tucci, she finds herself questioning what she’s always believed about her parents—and about herself. In FOR KEEPS, Natasha Friend tells a fresh, funny, smart story about what happens when a girl gets the guy she always wanted and the dad she never knew she needed. 

Review:

While I agree with others that For Keeps has a big similarity with the fun mother-daughter relationship between the young teen mother and quirky daughter in Gilmore Girls, the similarities stop there. Josie is a stronger character than Rorie--the daughter in Gilmore Girls, she is also more outgoing. I can say the opposite goes for Katie, Josie's mother. She likes to shy away from things more, however, she still makes people feel better about themselves when she feels like crap. When the parent's of Paul Tucci--the boy (now man) that got Katie pregnant--come into town, they think they're son won't be far behind. Josie goes with what she's been told and speculates on sight what the return of her father might mean. With a hard-cold-truth of a friend, Josie faces the secrets and differentiates the half-truths that she's believed her whole life from what really happened sixteen years ago between her mother and father. What happens when the truth and nothing but is revealed for Josie to hear?

Plus, while the romance relationship between Matt "Riggs" Rigby and Josie was nice to see grow continuously, it did not take on a dominant role in the story line; however, I still loved how the author was able to incorporate that into the story. This did not in any means take away from For Keeps enjoyable, fantastically well-written points. The author made all of the conflicts that was caused by Josie's flickering rage, be understandable and, as a reader should feel, sympathetic. Through her writing, the author tried to make the instability caused by Josie's mother's new relationship into something you'd see--and for others, experience--in real life daily.
I have to say that my favorite character was Big Nick. Mostly because I liked the way he kind of went behind his wife's back just to visit a bakery for some sweets. A lot of others have been saying that Liz was their favorite. While I believe she was an admirable character, not say she was my favorite by the way she always got into Josie's very personal business. I know they're best friends but still. Anyway, besides that quality her straight-forward attitude definitely resembles that ones of some friends I have myself in school. Natasha Friend did a great job in making For Keeps a touching, perceptively influencing read.

Recommended for anyone of YA fan-dom that wants a book that's insightful and so pleasant that you'll be done in just a few hours wanting to know how it ends.

Grade: B-

LiLi

Monday, May 3, 2010

Numbers by Rachel Ward (ATWT)

 Published: February 1st 2010 by Chicken House/Scholastic Inc.
Hardcover, 325 pages
ISBN: 0545142997
(isbn13: 9780545142991)

Whenever Jem meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die.

Burdened with such an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris
wheel, Jem notices that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today’s number. Today’s date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!

Review:

Having a curse of a power, Jem avoids any contact from the people around her. Being faced with the foster care system at age seven, she's been bouncing from family-to-family for some time now. She's fifteen and tries to distance herself from civilization. When forced to make communication with one never-still tall black kid her age, she takes a chance. What she finds leaves her on the run from the pigs and heartbroken.

I have to say, with Jem's unusual power of being able to see the death date of anyone who looks her in the eye; I sincerely thought that Number's would be a great addition to the YA genre. What I found left me foul-mouthed and deeply frustrated. I've seen mixed reviews of Numbers, and really thought that the reviewers that gave two-stars didn't understand the words they were reading. I took their word in kind, and when I read Reading With Tequila's review, I knew that everything she said I agreed with wholeheartedly. The very beginning of Numbers was depicted of Jem's past and how she acquired her ability; it also mentioned how her present day life she was dealing with being devoid of interaction with others. While her loneliness was completely understandable, as the book progressed, I soon found that there really was nothing special about seeing the day people die. Although, Jem had a rule of not telling anyone about her ability, there were instances where it could have helped the people she semi-cared about. It was honest that she thought that no one really understood her, but it's not really like she tried to explain herself, at least not until it was really necessary in the very end. Jem's character didn't really appeal to me in any way, and I can't say that she grew as a fonder character. Spider, a character that shows up out of nowhere from the start, was quite quirky in the beginning. Besides his BO, Jem and Spider seemed to have somewhat of a chummy relationship. As they were on the run, their relationship grew to a point where it was interesting but unbelievable. Even with all the horrid remarks Jem thought about him at first, she still grew feelings for him that were much unexpected. The last few chapters I really didn't enjoy at all. It seemed like Ward really didn't know what to do with the ending but just let it go and see where it fell. It was a made-up ending for a terrible tale.

I do not recommend this book in any way; don't even pick it up at the library if they have it.

Grade: D-

LiLi

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Broke? Have books you don't want/need?

You could sell any books you just know you won't read on these sites:

All the sites below let you print out a prepaid shipping label, so shippings free!

(Books or Textbooks, paid via Check or PayPal)

(Books only, paid via PayPal or Check)

(Books or DVDs, paid via PayPal or Check)

(Books only, paid via PayPal or Check)

(Textbooks or TI Graphing Calculators, paid via Check or PayPal)

(Textbooks or Video Games, paid via Check or Direct Deposit)

(Used books or Textbooks, paid via PayPal or Check)

Now I've been looking up this sites because, well, I'm broke. And being broke means I can't do my duties of sending out books pertaining to my giveaways as soon as possible. Now the typical rule for these sites are typing in the ISBN addresses and they'll tell you if their interested and just how much they'll pay for it. If you like to analyze like me, don't just check at one site and take its offer look around the other sites, and see if they'll pay more for the same book. There could be hundreds of these sites that you don't even know about--that I don't even know about--but if you do your research you just might find ones that are not even on this list. I realize that you could sell your books on Amazon, which is very common, but if you don't wish to pay for shipping, the list above is useful.
And for the readers and/or bloggers out there that rather credit to buy more books than actual cash, check out Powells system of buying books from you:
(prepaid Media Mail shipping label, paid via online account credit or PayPal)

Also, another way to make an actual difference in a life with your used books, donate them to our troops by arranging a pick-up, dropping them off at local drop-off sites or mailing them with only the shipping fee to pay:
As a last note, for every one of these sites make sure you skim through their FAQs pages and if you're ever in doubt, their Help pages as well. I know that if you search for more sites like this you're bound to find even more. I suggest you look at all your options before you make your final decision.

LiLi