Saturday, June 30, 2012

Little Brother

Title: Little Brother

Author: Cory Doctorow

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Review: I was assigned this book for my English class, and it took me a bit longer than usual to finish because I had to annotate. Little Brother takes place in a slightly different America, with high-security public schools and the book begins with a terrorist attack on San Francisco. Marcus and his friends were close to one of the attacks, but not inside a shelter, so they were picked up by the Department of Homeland Security. They were released, but not after suffering torture by people who refused to believe that they were innocent. The story is really about Marcus getting revenge for the increased security measures in the city, being tortured, and the DHS probably killing his friend. The book also has explanations about the computer programming Marcus uses in his fight against the DHS. The Xnet was something Marcus started for his own purposes, but as other teens joined, it became a rebellion fueled by the teenagers of San Francisco. How far Marcus was willing to go for revenge surprised me. He put everyone on the Xnet in danger, and lost his friends who were either too scared to go with him or angry with what he was doing. This was definitely one of the best assigned reading books I've ever read.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tempest Rising

Title: Tempest Rising

Author: Tracy Deebs

Rating: 0 stars

Summary: Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kona, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her-and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

Review: This book is just like every other mermaid/magic creature/paranormal book out there. Tempest has to make a choice between land and sea, hot boy and other hot boy. What I didn't see coming was the fact that sea hot boy is a seal. A seal prince, but a seal nonetheless. (okay, okay, technically he's a selkie) I hated how Kona kept Tempest in the dark, refusing to answer most of her questions. "You're not ready for the answers." He's known her for a few weeks, how would he know that she can't handle getting the answers? I also hate how every guy in these kinds of books talks down the the main character. "I know everything about magic-magic world and you don't get to know anything. You want answers? NO! You don't get any. But I'll make out with you to placate you and stop you from asking more questions." There are so many different takes on mermaids, but the author decides to go with: Lalalalalalala I have a magic fishy tail lalalalalalalalalala. Yes, there's a prophecy and a big fight scene and a big bad meany-pants enemy, but let's be clear: Tempest Rising is about Kona and Tempest's relationship. OMG you're so hot. OMG let's go to the magic seal kingdom. OMG big fight scene. OMG run away. OMG run back. Just like in every other book like this, Tempest is super in love with Kona but leaves him anyway: Boohoo, I love you so much. *jumps into the ocean with the intent of never seeing him again* Of course, she ends up running back to him. Just. Like. All. The other. Books. Not only is there no point to the runs-away/runs-back thing, Tempest abandons her family for a boy. The mom has already left, now they will have had two family member willingly leave them. What about Tempest's youngest brother? Who's going to stop Rio from picking on him? Who's going to help him with his spelling words? Who's going to make him pancakes and pack his lunch and read him bedtime stories? In the beginning, Tempest insists that she will choose to stay on land because she refuses to be like her mother. Her mother returned to the sea because she had to help save the people and the home she had known for over six hundred years from certain doom. Tempest is a cruel and heartless girl who abandons her already heartbroken family for a hot boy she's known for a little under a month. Also, she gets her mom killed. Great going there, Tempest. You didn't just totally beat your mom for the title of Worst Family Member Ever.


Title: Ashfall

Author: Mike Mullin

Rating: 3 stars

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth.

Review: A great story of survival, blah, blah, blah. Yes, there were some pretty cool fight scenes, but the romance annoyed me. Not so much the fact that it was there but how far the author took it. Alex and Darla have only known each other for a few weeks and suddenly they're all: I love you sooo much! All the while I'm thinking: You're walking through several feet of ash and snow with little food, water, and other supplies, trying to get to another state. Figure out how you're going to survive before you get down with your ladyfriend. Also, I didn't really think people would move to cannibalism that fast. If you're willing to kill and eat someone, why not kill someone with food and just steal their food?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

13 Little Blue Envelopes

Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Author: Maureen Johnson

Rating: 4 stars

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Review:  Ginny is traveling all over the world because of the instructions of her aunt. I didn't like the aunt because she's putting Ginny in so many dangerous situations, but one of Ginny's first adventures is in Rome and I've been there. She was talking about the roman forum and the colosseo metro stop and I'm in Italy as I write this having recently been in Rome so as these things were mentioned I was all, "I've been there! I know exactly what you're talking about!" Our hotel in Rome was near the Colloseum when Ginny mentioned the colosseo metro stop, I was all, "I got off on that stop! I know where that is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)" I've never been in th esame location as a book before, so I was really excited. There was romance, but it was a small portion of the book and unlike other books where in the end they make a big deal about the romance, here there was just: "Is there something? Yeah, there's something." Ta-da. All in all, a sweet and humorous story and I can't wait to read the sequel!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Title: Timeless

Author: Alexandra Monir

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

Review: I realized there was going to be romance, but I didn't realize that that is what the entire book was going to be about. When Michele learns to time travel, she's too busy obsessing over pretty boy to truly realize that she can freaking travel through time! The author tried to hint at big surprises that she revealed at the end, but the hints made the 'surprises' extremely obvious within seconds. Not only is the entire book about the romance, but at the end the author goes "Never mind, they'll just be friends!" and then at the end she goes "Guess what? I lied; they'll be together but you have to read the next book to find out how!" I love a good time-travel story, but in a time-travel story, I would appreciate the focus being on the time travel.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Author: E. Lockhart

Rating: 4  1/2 stars

Summary: Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

Review: This is a book I could read ten times over and never tire of. It was funny, intruiging, and impossible to put down. The writing style is similar to that of Jaclyn Moriarty, one of my favorite authors. I loved how Frankie refused to be put in her place and excluded from the secret society, and how she was a genius mastermind who surpassed all the high-and-mighty boys. I only wish that the book had been longer.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Power of Six

Title: The Power of Six

Author: Pittacus Lore

Rating: 1 star

Summary: I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.

And I'm ready to fight.

Review: I'm done with this series. If my boredom with the story had been the only issue, it wouldn't have received such a low rating. But it was definitely not the only issue. The book started off with first-person point of view of Marina, number seven. I preferred Marina to John, so all was good until a chapter began with first-person POV of  John, without any warning. I was extremely confused because I thought Marina was still talking. I would have been mildly aggravated but okay with this had the situation not become worse. In the middle of a chapter, the POV switched. One paragraph we're prancing around in Spain, the next paragraph we're fighting Mogs in America. There's no indication of any switch, just the start of a new paragraph. I refuse to put up with that kind of stupidity.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I am Number Four

Title: I am Number Four

Author: Pittacus Lore

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: There were nine. Three are dead. I Am Number Four.

Nine teenagers and their guardians are hiding on Earth... protected by a charm that means they can only be killed in numeric order, three are already dead. John Smith is Number Four. And his mortal enemies, the Mogadorian, are hunting him down.

The only way to keep off radar is to keep moving, never staying in one place for long. Finally in the firing line, all he can do is adopt the guise of a student and pray his unusual gifts—his legacies home; Planet Lorien—stay hidden long enough for him to settle into this new community.

But others seem to sense his otherness and when small-town life sucks him into its intrigues, it’s only a matter of time before his true nature is revealed. And that means there’s no space for love, friendship or a future if it means protecting not only himself, but the other five...

Review: I’ve had mediocre experiences with alien books in the past, and never really expected to find one that I liked. It might have been because this book is similar to some fantasy fiction books: people with special powers have to leave their homes and they try to blend into the human world while being hunted by their enemies. But what is the main character’s real name? He gets a new name for each location he moves to, and during the book he is John. That’s not his real name, though Henri calls him that even when they’re alone. They call the sixth girl “Six”, but the numbers aren’t their names because the kids had to have had names before they left for Earth. I couldn't help but laugh when I found out that the author named the Great Elder after himself. Sarah was a pointless character: she was just an empty-headed Barbie doll meant to do nothing but be a love interest. I am interested in seeing the movie, but the main character is played by the same guy who played Kyle in the horrible tragedy that is the movie version of Beastly. I would like to, just once, watch the movie interpretation of a book without wanted to scream at everyone involved in the production.


Title: Revived

Author: Cat Patrick

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger—and more sinister—than she ever imagined.

Revived:                                    Spoiler Alert

A girl involved in a secret drug test for a drug that brings people back to life and her discovery of cracks within the drug company? Okay, I’ll bite.

This ended up being a realistic fiction book with some science fiction mixed in. The main part of the book is Daisy dealing with her dying friend and her relationship with said friend’s brother. The book pretty much went like this: Nothing happens, discovery of Audrey’s cancer, secret revelation about drug, crushing on Matt, searching for information on drug secrets, Audrey has some difficulties, secret revelation, Matt and Daisy’s weird relationship, relationship troubles, Audrey’s death, secret revelation, try to fix relationship, secret revelation, happy ending. I hated Matt. After Daisy made the stupid decision to tell him about Revive, he demanded that she give some of the medicine to Audrey, even though Daisy told him it didn’t work on cancer patients and it would mean huge trouble for Daisy. When she finally breaks down and gives Audrey some Revive, it doesn’t work. Matt is angry with Daisy, which pisses me off. Daisy broke every rule and gave Audrey the drug even when she told Matt it wouldn’t work, and he’s angry with Daisy? I was listening to the audiobook, so it didn’t help that I found most of the voices extremely annoying.

Dark Eyes

Title: Dark Eyes

Author: William Richter

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and shes just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She’ll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko—her darkeyed father—finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally’s mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wallys had her own killer training, and she's hungry for justice.

I was so excited for this book, but it was a giant letdown. The idea was quite intriguing and the ending was full of unexpected twists, but getting to the ending was a trial. The book follows four different characters: Wally, Atley Greer, and Klesko and Tiger. These characters’ paths cross many times, but they each have different events leading up those points. The author follows Wally up to the events with the other characters, and then randomly inserts what the other characters did before hand, well after the situation has occurred. Essentially, this book had a really messed up timeline. Also, Jake and Ella are useless characters. They're two members of Wally's gang. They don't do anything, just stay out of the action scenes and get angry at Wally for going to find her mother and putting them in danger. Tevin, the other member, was the only one who went with Wally and actually did something. He was also the love interest, but it seemed that was only for the sake of having romance, not because it's important to the story or the characters work well together. In the end, everything that happened was for nothing; Wally's life is even more messed. This is supposedly a series, though I don't know where the author can possibly take the story from here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Siren Song

Title: The Siren Song

Author: Anne Ursa

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Inside an ordinary middle school in an ordinary city, a small redheaded eighth grader is doing something very ordinary, indeed.
Ever since Charlotte Mielswetzski and her cousin, Zee, saved the world, life has been rather ordinary. Ordinary, that is, if you call being ultramegagrounded (in Charlotte's case) or treated as if you might fall to pieces (in Zee's case) ordinary. Either way, heroes deserve better.
Of course, no one knows Charlotte and Zee are heroes. It's not like they can simply announce that Greek myths are real or proclaim they have returned from the Underworld, where they rescued all of mankind from Philonecron, a deranged demigod with delusions of grandeur. Instead, they are forced to keep this terrible knowledge to themselves, and are stuck in a state of extraordinary ordinariness.
But things aren't quite as ordinary as they seem. For Philonecron is the grandson of Poseidon, and you don't mess with the progeny of the second most powerful god in the universe. And Philonecron himself isn't so happy about having all of his delicious plans thwarted by mortal children. He wants revenge, and with his grandfather to help him, he is going to get what he wants.
For Charlotte and Zee, their not-so-ordinary lives are about to be disrupted once again. This time it's not the world they must save -- it's themselves.

Review: I read the first book a few years back and when I past by the second book in the library I just had to read it. I loved the first book, which is better than this one. There's plenty of humor and I'm all for Greek myths, but I prefer the Underworld to this adventure. While the main point of the story appears to be defeating Philonecron himself, but the book is focused on stopping Ketos from eating a cruise ship. Ketos is going to eat the ship because Charlotte and Zee defeated Philonecron in the first book, but despite the fact that this is his revenge and he;s the one who wanted it, Philonecron is just a creeper in the background. Will I still read the third book? Possibly.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Author: Jesse Andrews

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

Review: The book is "written by" the main character, as what seems to be a college entrance essay. Greg is supposed to be a high school senior, but he seems much more like an eighth grader, except for all the cussing and slightly more adult themes. Also, he continually says things like "This is a horrible book" or "I don't know why you're reading this barf-fest" and sometimes "You should just stop reading this book." I think it's supposed to be funny, but I'm not really sure because all it made me do was want to stop reading the book. I did finish it, though. I was ready to read a humorous yet heartwarming story. This did not happen. The first twenty pages when we were being given the lowdown on the life of Greg Gaines were hilarious, and there were a few funny instances after that, but not many. Greg is a jerk for the entire book, only caring about himself and now his invisibility is ruined because he had to eat lunch with some dying girl and his life is all messed up because Rachel had the audacity to get a cancer and need a friend. It's not until the last fifteen pages or so that he begins to actually care. If you ignore all of Greg's commentary, you might end up liking this book.