Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Madness Underneath

by Maureen Johnson
published: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2013
pages: 290

After the attack, Rory finds herself back at Wexford Academy as an experimental transition into normal life.  However, immediately following her return, she begins to learn about new mysterious deaths around campus. With her new power, the Shades need Rory more than ever and she knows it.  But when all the stress of being behind in school and tracking ghosts get to her she turns to a therapist, who may not be all that she says she is.

My main issue with this book is it felt less like it's own cohesive story and more like 290 pages of set up for the next book.  While that isn't necessarily the problem, it becomes one when the plot doesn't really stand well on it's own.  It's spooky and intense and at the same time witty and humorous, but I felt like this book was more character development for Rory than it was story for us.  I wish that it had been a bit more difficult to wrap up the mysteries that were presented to us in the beginning of the book.  But I also have this feeling that they were easy to wrap up because of something that will be explained in the next book.  There were a lot of unanswered questions and suspiciously easy cases in this novel.  My hope is that this next book will relieve my disappointment.

On the character development side of things, it was great.  I loved getting to know more about our witty, smart-ass heroine.  Even though it felt a little self-involved at some points, it's reasonable.  I mean let's be honest, if I were in her shoes I would be self-involved too.  There's also some character and relational development with Stephen, Boo and Callum.  Although, Rory's Wexford friends seem to take a backseat in this novel, the new characters and issues that pop up in this story make up for it.

There is a twist at the end of the book and I did not see coming.  I have not decided yet if I like it.  It didn't seem force, it felt very natural to the story, I just don't know if I personally like it.  Like I said before, it depends on what happens in the third book whether or not this twist is justified.

There's a lot riding on the next book in this series.  I hope it brings me everything, or at least enough of what I want.  Maureen Johnson will never cease to find and expose humor in the most intense situations, and that one of the reasons I love her writing.  I look forward to, hopefully, the most epic of endings.

Stars: 3/5


"Creepy, clever and ambiguous second volume in the Shades of London series...As always, Johnson wield words with a supple facility that keeps those pages turning.  The London minutiae are utterly engaging, the villains satisfyingly weird and numerous.  And there is kissing."
     --Kirkus Reviews

"Rory's internal monologue sparkles with the wit that Johnson's fans (and most of Twitter) will recognize, which is plenty entertaining.  The second half will satisfy readers' craving for what they came for - Rory's investigation of London's latest ghost crimes - while laying tragic groundwork for the next book."
     --Publisher's Weekly

"Johnson's sharp wit is ever-present, and her heroine is the perfect blend of snark and teen anxiety."
     --School Library Journal

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Notable Quotable: J.K. Rowling (#23)

"Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the they we expect."
     --Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Friday, October 18, 2013


by Marie Lu
published: Putnam Juvenile, 2013
pages: 371

June joins Day on the most wanted list in the Republic.  They are on the run and desperately looking for help.  When the Patriots - a vigilante group - come to their aid, they agree to help with some revolutionary plans.  But can Day and June trust the Patriots or have they become just another part of the Republic's plan.

After finishing Legend, I was looking forward to finding out what happened next to June and Day.  I found myself incredibly annoyed with everyone in this book at different times, because there seemed to be no trust.  There was too much time spent trying to keep Day and June a part.  I know this added much needed tension to their relationship, but at times I just wanted to yell at everyone.  Let them be a couple.  Day and June were often their own worst enemies, so I can't blame it on other people really, just their own stupidity.

There was a little bit of a lull in the middle of the book where the pacing was not up to par with the rest of the story.  I felt like there was a lot of time spent preparing, which is sometimes necessary, but maybe not as much of it.  Now, it could be that because I was reading it is small chunks it felt slow.  It doesn't matter, really.

What it lacked in pace, it made up for in character development and action.  There was plenty of action in this story, but along with that we got to see much more of Day, June and even Tess, as well as some of the other characters we met in Legend.  We learn more about the Patriots and what they are really after.

I cannot wait for the final book in this trilogy, it's time to find out how this all ends.

Stars: 4/5 


"Marie Lu has beaten the curse with has all the chivalry of Robin Hood and all the shine and grime of Blade Runner.. The well-drawn world, political undercurrents and the believability of the characters make it all feel fresh... Lu proves that a Book 2 needn't play second fiddle, providing intrigue and deep pleasure all its own."
     --The Los Angeles Times

"Lu opts for a high simmer of intrigue in her sequel to Legend... taut and insightful."
     --Publishers Weekly

"Stunning follow-up to Legend... The thrilling action and futuristic settings are sure to please fans of Divergent."
     --Self Awareness, Starred Review

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Books: Required Reading

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Funny enough, quite a few of my required reading in school ended up being some of my favorite books.

1. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee - I read this in 9th grade and loved it!

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I read this in 10th grade and started to fall in love with it, but it wasn't until I read it again on my own that I really fell for this book.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I first read it in 7th grade, when my English teacher gave me her copy.  I then read it for school couple more times: in 12th grade and sophomore year of college.

4. Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo - I read this sophomore year of college for my Child Lit class and loved it! Who knew I could fall in love with a mouse.

5. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I read this junior year of college.  I had heard quite a bit about the book and now I understand why so many people love it.

6. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt - I also read this in my Child Lit class, sophomore year of college.  This story is a beautiful one, that I would probably never had read if it weren't for that class.

7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - In 11th grade, my English teacher gave this to me to read over Christmas break.

8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - I read this senior year of college and it introduced me to the wonderful world of Agatha Christie.

Others, though, were a much less satisfying experience.

9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - I read this in 9th grade and oh my it was a struggle, so much so that I have nearly considered never reading another Dickens book again, ever.

10. Eragon by Christopher Paolini - I read this in college for my Child Lit class.  I think this was one of the few books in that class that disappointed me.  I wanted it to be good, but I just didn't like it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Notable Quotable: Suzanne Collins (#22)

"What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
published: Knopf Books, 2006
Pages: 183

When Norah accepts Nick's request to be his five-minute girlfriend, she doesn't know what she is getting herself into. She doesn't know that this particular Nick is still lovesick over his three-weeks-three-days ex-girlfriend who just so happens to be the girl for whom she has a deep-seeded hatred. And she also doesn't understand why she is responsible for her drunk best friend's safety every time they go into Manhattan. All she wants is to have a good time, and is it too much to ask for that night to be tonight?

I find myself thinking that my 14-year-old self would have loved this book. It has everything I liked at that stage of life: music, romance, adventure and teenage rebellion.  Now, it has just a tad too much needless swearing for my taste. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the book, but maybe I would have liked it more with a little less tastelessness. (Although, I do get that some teens speak like that so it's natural for the characters as well.)

One of the things I really liked about this book is that it's told from two different points of view: Nick and Norah's.  Their thoughts let us know so much more about them than their actions.  We know more about both characters than they know about each other and that's something I always love. Norah specifically drew me in with her unsure inner-thoughts and tough, bad-ass demeanor.  She very clearly is three dimensional and realistic. 

David Levithan and Rachel Cohn definitely have writing chemistry. I thoroughly enjoyed how their writing weaves together to create a story through two very different people. What they learn about each other, they also learn about themselves. The combination of these two things made me like this book. 

Starts: 3/5


"Electric sexy...and genuinely poignant, this is a compelling story of the risks and thrills of burgeoning intimacy."
     --The Bulletin, starred review

"This compulsively readable novel's... energy comes from the rapid-fire repartee between the leads.  Readers will likely enjoy the ride, even if it is obvious where these two are headed."
     --Publishers Weekly

"The wattage goes way up as two of the bright lights of contemporary writing for teens come together for an incandescent he said/she said night of storytelling."
     --Kirkus Reviews

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Worst/Best Series Endings

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien:  It's a bit touch and go, but finally seeing the ring that had manipulated and destroyed so many people, dissolved is one of the greatest feelings of relief ever.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling:  Our questions are answered and we get to see Harry and Voldemort finally duel it out in the last battle.  And while there was so much death, the resolution almost  made that death bearable.

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan:  These characters have grown up in this series from 12 to 16 in the last book.  I feel a little protective of them because I've grow so attached, but we really get to see Percy, Annabeth and Grover shine in the last installment.  They come into their own and take on an impossible task.  It was just so satisfying.

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley:  This is a incredibly clever and very entertaining series that drew me in every moment.  The ending gave us a glimpse into the girls' future in a way that didn't seem tacky and unnecessary.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Some of you might really like this ending, but I didn't.  There was just so much loss and destruction that the idea of a happy ending doesn't seem possible.  It didn't seem like Katniss chose, it seemed more like she settle for what ever was left, like after all the fighting she was still just this shell of a person, living this shell of a life.  I don't know about you, but I think this series deserved a better ending than that.

Maximum Ride by James Patterson:  I'm going to say it right here.  I don't even remember the last book in this series and I read it this past spring.  Less than a year ago.  Good books are usually memorable, but if I can't recall a single thing about it, then there's trouble.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket:  I got so invested in this series as a kid.  There were so many questions that needed to be answered and by the 13th book I was ready for them all, except we didn't really get any answers.  And the answers we did get weren't all that satisfying.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers:  I didn't even like this series, but I will say that I was absorbed thoroughly when I read them. But when I read Breaking Dawn, I literally scoffed out loud.  The entire book was gearing up for an event that never even happened.  And it wasn't like it couldn't have happened, but they decided to talk it out.  That scene just solidified my dislike for the series.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Notable Quotable: A.A. Milne (#21)

"You are braver that you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
     --Winnie the Pooh

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lola and the Boy Next Door

by Stephanie Perkins
published: Dutton, 2011
pages: 338

Lola Nolan, age 17, believes that life is more fun when you're wearing a brightly colored wig.  Her love for life extends beyond that to her family and friends and her rocker boyfriend.  She expresses herself without a care for what others think of her, that is she does until the Bell twins move back into the neighborhood and her life.  Old lifelong feelings resurface and Lola must figure out what they mean and make an attempt to reconcile them before it's too late.

I'm going to say it.  I loved this book more that Anna and the French Kiss.  I don't how it's possible, but it happened and I have no regrets. Stephanie Perkins, I give you a standing ovation because you have out done yourself.

This book was just lovely.  There are no other words to describe it. The main characters, Cricket and Lola, are so unique but completely realistic in their quirks.  I love that Lola dresses up all the time, different wigs and outfits.  She's the embodiment of the idea of everything's more fun when you're wearing a costume.  Cricket's habit of writing on his hand with black permanent marker is very interesting because it's mentioned quite frequently but not explained.  It adds to his peculiar nature.

One of my favorite things is when people make appearances from other novels.  This book is a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, but not a sequel, so I had no expectations that characters would drift between the two, but I was wrong.  Anna and St. Clair show up here and there as supporting characters to Lola and Cricket.  They reference things that happened in Paris and mention their future.  It's a brilliant way to provide a bit of closure within a greater story.  It's always fun to see what characters are up to after their story ends.

Despite the terrible cover (I like the new covers much better.), I read this book in two sittings, with the second one being the last 280 some pages.  I couldn't put it down!  I was absolutely absorbed into this story and cannot wait to get my hands on Isla and the Happily Ever After.  I can't help wonder if Lola and Cricket will show up in that book.  Either way, I want to read it now!

Stars: 5/5


"You're going to fall in love with Lola and the Boy Next Door.  Madly in love! Every page sparkles."
     -- Sarah Mlynoski, author of Bras & Broomsticks and Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have)