Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Map of the Known World

In stores April 15!

Summary:
In A Map of the Known World, Cora Bradley dreams of escape. Ever since her reckless older brother, Nate, died in a car crash, Cora has felt suffocated by her small town and high school. She seeks solace in drawing beautiful maps, envisioning herself in exotic locales. When Cora begins to fall for Damian, the handsome, brooding boy who was in the car with Nate the night he died, she uncovers her brother's secret artistic life and realizes she had more in common with him than she ever imagined. This is the tale of one girl's journey through the redemptive powers of art, friendship, and love.

Rating:
Character Development: 10/10pts
Originality: 10/10pts
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10pts
Ending: 10/10pts
Voice: 10/10pts
Recommendation: 10/10pts
Total Score: 60/60pts
Grade: A++!!!!!!!!!

Age Appropriate?
Cussing: Not at all (that I can remember)
Drugs, alcohol etc: Not at all
Sexual Content: Suggestive in Conversation
Aimed at: age 13 and up

Review:
Oh. My. Gosh. This book is soooooooo good. The writing is superb, the characters are so real I feel like I know them, the story is beautiful, touching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I can't think of one bad thing about it. It's the first book this good I've read in what seems like a long time. It's so refreshing! Lisa Ann Sandell writes beautifully. Every transition between events is an easy flow so that I NEVER wanted to put this book down. Her uses of figurative language blows my mind away. It is the first book that has ever brought tears to my eyes, yet it also left me grinning like a fool in class while my substitute played one of those boring documentary videos. I LOVED IT!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hot Scots, Castles, and Kilts by Tammy Swoish

Summary:
Little does 16-year-old Sami Ames know what she’s in for when she and her mother head to Scotland to help their cousins save MacKensie Manor. Sami feels like she’s landed in a medieval time warp. There’s no electricity, no running water, or hair conditioner! But Sami joins in the challenges of daily peasant life in order to get MacKensie Manor up and running as a working farm tourist attraction. She can’t imagine people paying to make soap, dye wool, or milk cows. What’s worse, a ghost has invaded her room. Sami can’t figure out cousin Fiona, who obsesses over an ancient family feud with the McClintoggs, but Sami’s thrilled when she has a close encounter with a hot Scot. Too bad it’s Adan McClintogg!
Rating:
Character Development: 5/10pts
Originality: 6/10pts
Overall Enjoyment: 6/10pts
Ending: 5/10pts
Voice: 7/10pts
Recommendation: 3/10pts
Total Score: 32/60
Grade: C
Age Appropriate?
Cussing-Not at all
Drugs and Alcohol- Not at all
Sexual Content- None at all
Aimed at age 10 and up
Review:
The reason I picked up this book is because I'm traveling to Scotland with my theatre troupe this summer. I thought it would be interesting, and it was. I don't think it's going to be like the experience I will have in Scotland at all, but the book was entertaining.
Tammy Swoish sets up the story as Sami's journal and pursues this well. It's not as descriptive as many other books in the format of a diary, though. In some ways I like that, and in others I don't.
I loved the ghost, Samuel Logan, and that paranormal side to the story added interest.
Overall, I think the events could have been developed a bit more, but it was an enjoyable, quick, light-hearted read, though nothing spectacular. It's one of those books you forget a month after you read it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ghost Medicine by Andrew Smith

I can't really do a review for this book because I didn't finish it. I only got about half way through, but I'll tell you why. It was a book that would more appeal to guys than girls. The main character is a teenage boy, the setting is in a small town and on a ranch. The talk is all boy terminology that mostly does not appeal to girls. And I have 5 brothers... so I'm pretty used what guys say. But there's a lot of stuff about guns and about horses-- the like of which I do not understand at all. It wasn't a bad book. I wouldn't say that. I think it would have gotten way better if I had given it the chance. But I didn't. (My fault not the author's). I'm going to see if I can get my brother to read it because he's totally a ranching guy. My grandfather owns a ranch and all my brothers and my dad go out there and do guy stuff like hunting, and airsoft wars. Haha. I would go because it is pretty fun... but the moments at home when I have silence are too precious to spare.
Sorry I got off track...
Overall: I would recommend this book to boys.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shakespeare's Muse

Shakespeare's Muse is officially an author on my blog. She reads a lot of the same type of books as me, but at double the pace. She is a speed reader. Now, with her also working as a reviewer, you should expect much more reviews. Sorry for the lack of them by the way... between the enormous amount of school work I've been recieving, and my theatre's one act play, I have had ZERO amount of reading time. But I'll be recieving some books in the mail now, and Shakespeare's Muse will be reviewing... so you should expect great things.

Elise

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Summary:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone fighting against you?

Twenty- four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Review:
Character Development: 10/10pts
Originality: 10/10pts
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10pts
Ending: 7/10pts
Voice: 10/10pts
Recommendation: 10/10!pts
Total Score: 57/60pts
Grade: A+!!!

Appropriate?
Cussing: Not at all.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: None.
Sexual Content: None.

Aimed at ages twelve and up.

Review:
This book was awesome. It was literally the best book I've read in like a year. (!!!!!) I think anyone-- great or small, old or young, cynic or optimist, whatever, whoever --will love this book. The writing is captivating and vocal and very, very real. The setting is dramatic and horrifically perfect. The characters--Oh, goodness, the characters!--are beautifully constructed and it's so easy to love them all. I must encourage you to read it, though. It is a science fiction book. I never read science fiction. Never. That's why it took me so long to pick up The Hunger Games. But once I did, let me tell you...Wow! This is science fiction like no science fiction you've ever heard of! It didn't have the tone of any normal sci-fi. It was gentler and softer, more involved with nature and the "village" feeling that is common with fantasy. And although it was set in the future of North America, and that fact is obvious throughout, it was most similar to Kristen Cashore's book Graceling in voice and tone than any other dystopian-themed sci-fi I've read (and almost all of them are dystopian). Hunger Games was deeply involved in a ruined and sick society with a mask of beauty, but the difference lies, I think, in the total lack of disillusionment. Our hero, Katniss, knows from page one that her society is broken, because, as the sole breadwinner (or stealer) of a family impoverished and widowed by the law, she bears the bulk of the society's sorrows. This aspect of the story is an enormous relief, plot-wise, and removes you from ever thinking your hero dull, naive, or unintelligent. The book is altogether thrilling, captivating, and heartbreaking while dealing with gruesome, heavy themes that are sure to leave you quaking in your boots long after the last page.

Need by Carrie Jones


Summary:
Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.


She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right--not human--in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you'd have to fear.


Rating:
Character Development: 7/10pts
Originality: 4/10pts
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10pts
Ending: 7/10pts
Voice: 9/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total Score: 45/60pts
Grade: A

Appropriate?
Cussing: A not unbearable amount, but it is there.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: None.
Sexual Content: suggested in conversation, but not in a lewd or offensive way.

Aimed at high-school level, about 13+.

Review:

I have recommended this book to absolutely everyone who has asked about it--and believe me, many people have. The cover is not exactly unremarkable. At first, I thought I was crazy, picking up this strange gold lip glossed, misunderstood-high-school-girl book. I have no idea why I did. But it was easy to get into. The writing is well done, the characters are likable, the plot is intense and twisting. I was surprised at this book's greatness. There was, however, one small drawback. About half way through, I stopped and really started thinking over the plot line. (I mean really thinking, not just pondering :-) And I realized that it was suspiciously similar to that of Twilight. Girl moves from sunny city to cold and tiny town where she discovers the existence of magical creatures and their role becomes prominent in her life, not to mention the crazy beautiful, monsterfied boy in whom she takes an active interest. Hmmm, I thought, that seems odd. But never fear, avid readers! The plot twists! This is no vampire love story. It's a...well, it is partially a love story...but no vampires involved, I promise. :-) The voice is so unique and the myths so well-researched that you will hardly notice. Go at it, I say!



Hey everyone! This is Shakespeare's Muse! I will be doing some work here on this site as a guest reviewer from time to time--reviews and stuff. My own blog is not a reviewing site like Elise's here, it's pretty much just an info-and-such kind of thing exclusively about YA fantasy (really great YA fantasy). There's a link somewhere on this site--The Bookshelf Collection, it's called. I'd love it if you stopped by!

Thanks! (and let me get on with doing my first review...) :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap


Summary:
Amid the glamour of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy’s court in 18th-century Vienna, murder is afoot. Or so fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria is convinced when her musician father turns up dead on Christmas Eve, his valuable violin missing, and the only clue to his death a strange gold pendant around his neck. Then her father’s mentor, the acclaimed composer Franz Joseph Haydn, helps her through a difficult time by making her his copyist and giving her insight in to her father’s secret life. It’s there that Theresa begins to uncover a trail of blackmail and extortion, even as she discovers honor—and the possibility of a first, tentative love. Thrumming with the weeping strains of violins, as well as danger and deception, this is an engrossing tale of murder, romance, and music that readers will find hard to forget.


Rating:
Character Development: 7/10pts
Originality: 7/10pts
Overall Enjoyment: 6/10pts
Ending: 5/10pts
Voice: 5/10pts
Recommendation: 6/10pts
Total Score: 36/60
Grade: B

Appropriate?
Cussing: Not at all
Drugs, alcohol, etc.: Occasional drinking, but not with main character
Sexual Content: Suggestive in Conversation
Aimed at 12 and up

Review
The plot was good and interesting, but I think that the writing style took a lot away from it. Even at the most heightened moments of the novel, I was sometimes not pulled into the story because of how the events were described. The writing didn't have the intensity that warps me into the climax and keeps me flipping the pages as fast as possible. Another thing that was extremely lacking was the romance. The story SO had the potential, but it didn't happen. The book did have a lot of good qualities too, though. The setting was always very vivid, and I really loved some of the characters, like Danior, Toby, and Mirela. Oh! And there was some amazing name choices! I just felt like the novel could have been better than it really was.