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Monday, December 2, 2013

The Wishing Spell Review

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

Written by: Chris Colfer
# of pages: 438

Average Rating: 4.08/5
My Rating: 5/5

Read in November 2013

Summary according to goodreads

Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.
"The Land of Stories" tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. 

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

My Thoughts 

I love watching Chris on Glee, and I just think he is a funny and awesome guy. When I heard he's also an author, I knew I had to get my hands on this and read it. I am very happy to say that I was not disappointed! Originally I had picked this book up at the library because I was on a book buying ban, but once I started reading it I fell in love and knew I had to own it. 

This book made the little girl inside of me so happy, because I grew up reading all of these fairy tales and secretly always wanted to be a princess. Chris gave me a whole new perspective on some of my favourite characters, and reading this was such a great experience. The world created was so real, it was almost like you were exploring it alongside Alex and Conner. 

From the beginning of this book I had an idea of what I wanted to happen at the end, and I was pretty right on. There were many points where I didn't know what to expect next, which is very refreshing in a middle-grade novel. 

Overall, this book was awesome and brought me back to some of my favourite memories from my childhood. I would recommend this book for any reader, as it is middle grade and is open for the imagination of anyone. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Espressologist Review

The Espressologist 

Written by: Kristina Springer
# of pages: 184

Average Rating: 3.54/5
My Rating: 4/5

Read in November 2013

Summary according to goodreads

What’s your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie. Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane’s Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She’s the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right?

My Thoughts 

This is a young-adult contemporary novel, which led to it being very predictable at times. With some of the characters, I knew exactly who they were going to be with, what they were going to do/say, etc. Knowing what was going to happen really made this story less enjoyable, and is one of the reasons that I didn't give it five stars. 

Athough this is classified as a young adult book, it almost seemed as though it was written for a younger age group based on the language. I have read many middle grade books, young adult books and adult books, and I would say that this fits more along the lines of a pre-teen novel. 

This story had a cute plot, and it was truly an interesting idea. I am a big fan of different drinks and go to Starbucks frequently, so this seemed like the perfect story for me to read. It was a very quick read - only took me a day! You can't seem to turn the pages fast enough. This is a book that is so engrossing that you even if you have an idea of what is going to happen, you just want to keep reading anyway. 

This book was recommended to me, and I'm so glad they did! I recommended it to all of you, and even though it is a contemporary it is perfect for the winter as it takes place in December. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hate List Review

Hate List

Written by: Jennifer Brown
# of pages: 405

Average Rating: 4.07/5
My Rating: 4/5

Read in October 2013

Summary according to goodreads

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

My Thoughts

It was requested that I do a review for this book, so here it is!

This book made me smile, made me yell, and made me cry. It was such a powerful story that everyone needs to read. I was very hesitant to pick it up at first because when I bought it, I had no idea what it was about. This may seem like it's going to be a depressing book - and I'm not going to lie, it is - but it was also a good realistic contemporary that made you think. Nobody ever expects something like a school shooting to happen, so how do you move on when it does?

This poor girl went through so much, and people kept making it seem like she had been the shooter. The character development was so strong in this story, and I felt like I was emotionally attached to Valerie. At times I felt like I was physically in the story, which is very powerful for an author to be able to do. I thought my family life was bad at times, but it was nothing compared to Valerie's. 

The hardest part about reading this book was knowing that things like this actually happen. School shootings are very tragic, and unfortunately very real. I watch a lot of Dr. Phil, and it was a totally different experience reading about it from the perspective of someone that was victim, than just hearing about it on TV. Although this novel is a work of fiction, it feels very real because you know that for some people, this is their lives. 

I don't want to say much about the ending for those who want to read it, but I will say that I was very satisfied. I felt that in the end all of the loose ends were tied up, I had no questions that went unanswered, and it was just very conclusive. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sinnerman Review


Written by: Jonathan M. Cook
# of pages: 185

Average Rating: 4.43/5
My Rating: 3/5

Read in November 2013

Summary according to goodreads

"Love makes sinners of us all."

In the sleepy Midwestern town of Vespers...

In the sweltering summer heat...

Julian Sane, high school teacher and cad's cad, is a man at war with himself. But a chance encounter with a former student will push him across professional boundaries and force him to confront his personal demons.

My Thoughts

I received a copy of this book to review, but that does not influence my opinion. 

A strong asset to this novel was that it included strong and powerful descriptions. Although this is a rather short book, it is one that you need to read slowly in order to fully grasp all of the details. 
I would suggest this novel for more mature readers, as it didn't seem to fit into my age group. I plan on rereading in the future, and hopefully I will be able to appreciate it more. As a recently-turned adult, I haven't had as many life experiences that would help me be able to relate to this story, but I'm sure there are lots of people that could. 

The main character, Julian, was very arrogant and not enjoyable at the beginning, but he went through significant character development during the story. I have said before that character development is nearly crucial in defining a good novel, so it was nice to see Julian learn how to choose the important things in life and not be so ... rude. 

Overall, I think that it is very refreshing to read a contemporary that isn't all about the happy ever after, and isn't realistic at all. This story is easy to see happening based both on the plot and the characters. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a contemporary read, but it also a good book when reflecting on life. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

He's an Asshole Anyway Review

He's an Asshole Anyway

Written by: Elliot Capner & Misga Zelinsky
# of pages: 211

Average Rating 4.6/5
My Rating: 4/5

Read in November 2013

Summary according to goodreads

How to deal with being dumped according to the assholes themselves. 

The Aussie break-up book that every girl and her friends MUST read has now hit America!

Thatz rightz, we know how much you Americanz needz your Americanized wordz. So here it iz, in all of it'z glory!

Specifically, we will tell you: what he is thinking; what he is doing; what you are doing wrong and how you should act in the period immediately after you've been dumped to ensure that you win the break up.

My Thoughts

I recieved a copy of this book to review, but that does not influence my opinion. 

This book captured my attention right from the beginning. It is so honest and straight up, but it is also true in many ways. This might seem like a "joke" book at first, but it does carry some helpful advice and useful topics.

One of my favourites was "If you are going to get upset, make sure it's something worth getting upset over." This is something I am trying to live by, and I think a lot of people should too - many people overreact and cause way too much drama. 

This book included cute little cartoons and people, that helped make reading this more enjoyable. When I first read the premise of the story, I was afraid it would be boring and like every other "self-help" book. I couldn't have been more wrong.

This story made references to many things in todays pop culture, which made it so great and funny. "However, a break-up is a traumatic experience, almost as traumatic as being forced to watch an entire season od Vampire Diaries, sober."

A quote from the beginning that got my attention was, "This book isn't about understanding men, or even understanding women (quite frankly there isn't enough paper in the world for that book)." This was a very entertaining book that had me laughing many times. and I read it in one sitting. 

There were so many parts I'd like to put sticky notes in to remember, that I might have to get my hands on a physical copy of this book. If you haven't heard of this book, you are missing out and need to read it! I am so happy I got to review this, because I truly enjoyed every page.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Darkest Minds Review

The Darkest Minds

Written by: Alexandra Bracken
# of pages: 488

Average Rating: 4.30/5
My Rating: 4/5

Read in October 2013

Summary according to goodreads

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

My Thoughts

This book made me anxious so many times, and while reading this I could be seen with tears in my eyes. If you followed my goodreads updates, you would know that quite a few times I could only sit there and think "oh my god". There are many quotes that I loved from this book, especially from Liam, but I can't exactly share them with you without giving away some of the story. 

I went into this book "blind" which means that I had no idea what it was about before I started reading. This novel caught my attention right from the beginning, but it took me a while to catch on. It kind of gave me the feeling of X-men, but I am a fan so I didn't have a problem with it. Around the middle of the book while making their way to East River, I found that the story got a little slow but it definitely picked up within the last hundred pages.

That ending! I'm speechless. I had been warned ahead of time which led me to preorder the sequel, Never Fade, and I am so glad that I did! Sadly I've got a lot coming up in the next couple of weeks, but once that's over I'm not going to do anything but read!

Overall this book met all of the expectations I had for it, and I would highly recommend it to any reader!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Eye of Minds Review | GUEST BLOGGER

The Eye of Minds

Written by: James Dashner
# of pages: 323

Average Rating: 3.81/5
Ke-sha's Rating: 4/5

Read in August 2013

Summary according to goodreads

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.
And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team.
But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Ke-sha's Thoughts

Micheal: I liked him a lot, He was laid back and like to do what a lot of us do, Hang out and eat with friends. Except he like to do it the VirtNet. Yes, you can eat food there. He's a little addicted to VirtNet and spends a considerably amount of time there. The only one he knows who spends more time there is his friend Bryson.

In the beginning of this book I questioned some of the choices made but I was able to look past them and enjoy the story. Michael is dedicated but starts asking the smart question a little to late. How much is he willing to sacrifice? And how will he react to the truth once revealed? 

Now Michael has two friends joining him for this journey. Bryson who doesn’t seem to have a filter from brain to mouth is someone who spends almost all there time in VirtNet. He's a little cocky throughout the book but I think he learns he's not exactly top dog throughout the story. Then there's Sara: who is the one who keeps the two boys in line a little. Sort of like a mother figure and when they’re being oblivious, point out the obvious to them. 

The friendship between the three is nice usually easy going and when horrible stuff happened they bonded together. Just because this doesn't take place in the real world doesn't mean there isn't any real danger. One of the most dangerous thing about the Cyber-Terrorist Kaine is that when he kills people in the VirtNet he's killing them in real life to. Which isn't something someone should be able to do. Plus there's the psychological damage they probably wont be getting over anytime soon.

I felt at times that we didn't get to know enough about Sarah and Bryson. I feel like Michael's character overshadowed the two of them a lot of times. I know he's the main character but it would have been nice to learn more about the other two. Maybe it will be different in the next book. Also they've never meet in real life so I wonder if the dynamic of the relationships will change once that happens. Who knows.

Despite all that I have high hopes for the second book. Reading about these three hacker friends hired to do something that the VirtNet security couldn't do was a real page-turner and Kaine, Well you'll have to read to find out all about his sinister deeds. The sequels are definitely on my Pre-Order list. I gave this book 4/5 stars, and I look forward to seeing how everything plays out in the upcoming books.

Go check out Ke-sha! She's great!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Lightning Thief Review

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Written by Rick Riordan
# of pages: 375

Average Rating: 4.16/5
My Rating 4/5

Read in October 2013

Summary according to goodreads

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

My Thoughts

It should not have taken me three months to read this book, as it is decent sized and middle grade. Every time I picked this book up, I could only read about 20 pages before I got bored and had to put it down again. This book was also easy to forget as whenever I picked it back up, I had forgotten what had happened where I left it off.

I found this novel to be kind of predictable at times, boring at others, and only interesting near the end. Knowing that there were other books in the series made it difficult for me to get nervous for the characters, and into the action of the story because in the back of my mind I knew he would complete his quest.

There was definitely character development in Percy and Grover, which should make the rest of the books in the series more interesting. I plan on picking up the rest of the books, but I am in no rush. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

For One More Day Review

For One More Day

Written by Mitch Albom
# of pages: 208

Average Rating: 4.02/5
My Rating: 4/5

Read in September 2013

Summary according to goodreads

As a child, Charley "Chick" Benetto was told by his father, "You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both." So he chooses his father, only to see the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence. 

Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. And he decides to take his own life.

He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother who died eight years earlier is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened.

What follows is the one "ordinary" day so many of us yearn for, a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family secrets, and to seek forgiveness. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the astonishing things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together.

My Thoughts

"People figured I crossed the line...The truth is, there is no line. There's only your life, how you mess it up, and who is there to save you."

I am a huge fan of Mitch Albom, as The Timekeeper might be my favourite book that I have ever read. He did not disappoint with this novel, because I actually cried. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, but this novel is so well written and anyone can relate to this. Personally I can't imagine living without my mom, so this book helped me realize how crucial every minute of life is. I felt such a connection to Chick because I have felt the same way about things, and he went through a lot of character development in this novel, making it a book to be cherished. The only reason that I could not give it five stars was because it wasn't as great as The Timekeeper, but I would give this four and a half stars if I could. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

School Spirits Review - GUEST BLOGGER

Review by Alyssa from acreads

School Spirits

Written by Rachel Hawkins
# of pages: 297

Average Rating: 3.93/5
Alyssa's Rating: 3/5

Read in September 2013

Summary according to goodreads

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? 

Alyssa's Thoughts

School Spirits is the first novel that exists as a spin-off to Hawkins' very popular and well loved (well, at least by me) Hex Hall series. In an attempt to avoid spoilers like the plague, I'm not going to get into how our main character, Izzy, and Hex Hall's MC, Sophie, are connected... because, seriously, that would give away a lot. Just suffice it to say that School Spirits exists in the same universe, after the evens of Hex Hall

Hawkins gives us insight into a different aspect of her universe - enter Izzy Brannick... one of the last members of the all female kick ass Prodigium fighting family. After a near fatal encounter with a vampire, Izzy's mom decides that she needs to uproot her daughter to a very, very small town named Ideal... There, Izzy can take a breather from intense monster hunting and try to re-group over a seemingly boring ghost case. Along the way, Izzy learns a lot about her self, her family, and the super natural happenings in Ideal. 

I enjoyed Izzy's character because she was a nice change of pace. She was kick ass, unapologetic, and while she did get a little swoony over the male MC, she didn't go completely boy crazy and allow her romantic interests to distract her from the task at hand. It was also interesting to see the universe from a non-Prodigium point of view. If you've read the Hex Hall series, you know that the Brannicks are very anti-magical folk. 

However, it's the plot that kind of got to me. I felt as though Hawkins could have easily extended the story line into another book or two.... but instead, it was wrapped up in a fashion that felt too easy for me. 

All in all, I did enjoy the story... but not nearly as much as I enjoyed the original series. If Hawkins decided to create another story from Izzy's POV, I will definitely pick it up - no questions asked... but I'm not going to expect to be blown away by it.

Did you enjoy School Spirits? What did you think was up with Dex?!