Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (when compared to other books in series)
Pages: 629
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)
Series: Twilight (Book 3 out of 4)
Publication Date: 2007

Synopsis (From Inside Cover):
As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampure continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surround by danger.  In the midst of it all she is force to choose btween her love for Edwar and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf.  With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death.  But which is which?


I feel so ashamed.  I proudly proclaim that I am not a fan of the Twilight Saga.  I don't hate it either but it annoys me so much and on so many different levels.  That why it is really hard for me to admit that I really enjoyed this book.  There I said it.  But it doesn't make me feel any better.  

In the third book of the Twilight Saga.  We find Bella yet again in danger.  Unfortunately for me (and other readers out their) she still has a slew of mental issues (for my complete diagnosis click here).  Bella is still one of the worse female lead characters that I have ever had the misfortune to read about in my entire life.  It is bad when you can neither love or hate the lead.  When you pity them and want to read the book where the shrink gives them heavy doses of Xanax and Lithium.  Bella even agrees with me.  At one point she states "I need therapy".  So, I was right.

So, why did I rate this book so high.  Mainly because there was more action this time.  The first two books seemed to drag on.  And then when the action came it was short and highly disappointing.  This time there was suspense and when the drama started it was more satisfying (yet still short).  I don't think that action sequences if Meyer's strong point.  But that is not a big deal when your main character needs to be in a straight jack.

I also liked this book because it made me smile.  Mainly I smiled when Bella and Jacob interacted.  Their relationship seemed more natural and not as force (like Bella and Edward).  I like the playfulness of their (Jacob and Bella) relationship.  Bella seems to be able to relax more around him and she even appears somewhat less nutty.  With Edward, its all self doubt and pity.  She did calm down with the "Edwards so beautiful" and "Edwards prefect" mess.  But it is still there every now and than so it was somewhat easy to ignore.

Not to give too much away.  But I hated how this book ends.  But that is just because Bella did do what I think is best for her in the end.  With one more book to go maybe she will decided to change her mind.  I am hoping so.

But overall, a very nice followup to New Moon.  

Pros: Better Action, Fewer descriptions of Edwards Perfection
Cons: Bella (still weak),

Overall Recommendation:  

If you read the other two books than of course you should read this one (since there are only two books left).  Also, this book cannot be read by itself.  There are some complex relationship stuff going on and the first two books set the foundation. So, if you are like me and really disliked the first two books you might be surprised and enjoy this one.  It is also a quick read, I finished in two days.

Library Challenge (11 out of 25)
Series Challenge (7 out of 15)

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

20% Rule: The Gathering by Anne Enright

Pages: 260
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2007

Synopsis (from Google):

The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin
for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him--something that happened in their grandmother's house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations, she shows how memories warp and secrets fester. The Gathering is a family epic, clarified through Anne Enright's unblinking eye. This is a novel about love and disappointment, about how fate is written in the body, not in the stars. The Gathering sends fresh blood through the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new. As in all of Anne Enright's work, this is a book of draing, wit, and insight, her
distinctive intelligence twisting the world a fraction and giving it back to us
in a new and unforgettable light.

Why I Quit:

By page 30 something I was bored. Nothing really happened. Let me rephrase that. Stuff happened but the writing was so bland that it all seemed rather uneventful. I expect to feel some emotion when reading a story were a mother learns that her son is dead. I felt nothing.

I also got tried of the jumping back and forth. The story is written in first person. The narrator jumps back and forth between present day and a imagined encounter between her grandmother, grandfather, and grandfather's best friend. Now I am sure this has something to do with the story. But I will never find out. Because I Quit.

Now, I have to look for another book that takes place in Ireland. Because this book was for a challenge. I am not having much luck with award winning books lately. This book won The Booker Prize in 2007.

Pages Completed: 41

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Specials By Scott Westerfeld (Spoilers Included)

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Pages: 372
Genre: Fiction (Young Adult)
Series: Yes (Uglies Trilogy Book 3 of 4)
Publication Date: 2006

Synopsis (From Inside of Book):
"Special Circumstances": The words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were sinister rumor - frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breath-takingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary.

And now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it's easy to tune that out - until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

This is the last book in Tally's story and I am a little disappointed. Fist the good, by book 3 the slang is no longer annoying. The bad, Tally character is a lot weaker in this book. I can understand the reason behind her character flaw, but I expected her to deal with it better. Kind of like she did in the first two books, when she progressed. What connections I formed with her in "Pretties" were wiped out in this book. I did not care for her in this book (just like in Uglies), she was too much of a follower.

I also had a problem with how the ending was wrapper up too nicely. There is an art to wrapping up a story and Westerfeld did not do it in this story. I hate when a another wraps up all characters lives in the last chapter. I would rather be left guessing the what happens then to have a wrap up were an author basically states: so and so did that, and she does this. That is the formula that Westerfeld uses.

Even though I have one more book left in the series (Extras, which is sort of an epilogue with a new main character). I think this series as a whole would have been better if the author had done these things:
  1. Extended the time period. Yes, revolutions can happen fast but it takes longer than a year to fully contemplate there is a problem and then overthrow the system. Especially if you are 16. Westerfeld packed a lot for just one year. And it takes away from the believability of the story (and yes I know it is science fiction, but it could have been executed better).
  2. This series would have been better is the target audience had been adults. The young adult genre can be restricting. It has to be hard to try to convey emotions and concepts that are mature but keep them in a clean wholesome young adult reader format. It seemed that the Uglies "Trilogy" as a whole suffered from this restriction. The relationship that Tally formed with those around her would have been more believable if the reader did have to remind themselves that they were dealing with a 16 year old girl. Not a 20 something year old woman.
Pros: Not as slang ridden
Cons: Plot, Characters, Ending

Overall Recommendation:

I would only recommend this if you have read the other two books and have a desire to at least see how Tally Youngblood's story ends. It is a fairly quick read (like the other two), so it will not feel like a complete waste of time.


Library Challenge (10 out of 25)
Series Challenge (6 out of 16)

Other Reviews:
Becky's Book Review

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
    Let the book fall open to a random page.
    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    Please avoid spoilers!
My Two Teasers:
"The buzz of the emergency energized Tally; she found the whole thing icy, like back when school was canceled because of a blizzard or a fire. Even with her sore muscles, she felt ready to follow Zane into the wilds for weeks or months, whatever it took." pg. 13

ARC Question

So, yesterday I received my first advance reader copy book from Librarything's Early Reviewer Program. I am really excited, I have been signing up for books for months and have never won one until now.

The book I got was "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister". I can't wait to read it. I have "The Diary of Anne Frank" on my list to read in the next month or two. I think that I will read these books together. And do some sort of comparison and contrast.

But anyways, the question that I have is what do you do with the ARC copy once you have read it? Do you keep it and add it to you collection?

I really don't have the space for another book. My copy says for "promotional purposes only".

Would it be okay to give it away on my blog?

What do you do?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Rating: 3 Out of 5
Genre: Fiction (Young Adult)
Series: Yes (Uglies Series Book 2 out of 3)
Publication Date:

Synopsis (From Google Books):

Gorgeous. Popular.Perfect. Perfectly wrong.Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.But beneath all the fun -- the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom -- is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life -- because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this
information survive.


This is my second go around with Tally Youngblood and Scott Westerfeld. Now I really did not like the first book in the series, Uglies.

Some of the main issues that I had with that book were not fixed in this book. But at least this time around they are a little more tolerable. Mainly the word choice. Westerfeld still tries to create this futuristic environment by coming up with slang terms and while I understand the concept the execution leaves much to be desired. Instead of pulling me into the story, the slang, left me puzzled and often times wondering what the characters were talking about. I found myself supplementing Westerfeld word choices with my own to make sentences make more sense. The most annoying habit he had in this book was hyphenating words and doing it often. For example:


And lot of other ones. Almost on every single page.

Last time I mentioned that I really did not connect with the characters in the book. I did not have the same problem this time. I liked Tally Youngblood's character and the other main character that he introduced in the installment, Zane. I thought that the characters were a little more realistic this time. Also, Tally seemed more mature. The personality of the characters (especially Tally) really shined through this time.

I also enjoyed that Pretties was much more fast paced to me. There was a lot more action happening and that helped. But with those actions you could see Tally's character growing and developing.

Westerfeld also picked up nicely in between the two books. There was no awkward reintroduction. I just gave a few paragraphs to remind the reader of what happened last time.

Overall a much better book than the first.

Pros: Characters, Action
Cons: Slang

Overall Recommendation:

To fully understand this book you have to read Uglies first. I personally would not recommend this series. It is mediocre to me. The concept good, execution not so good.

Library Challenge (9 out of 25)
Series Challenge (4 out of 15)

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Rating: 3 out of 5
Pages: 335
Genre: Fiction
Series: No
Publication Date: 2007

Synopsis (From Google Books):
This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today. Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuk-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim. Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.

I really don't know where to start. I don't know if it is because I have not been really able to read a book for a while or that my life has been for its normal orbit. But whatever the reason. I don't think that it affected how I felt about this book. Not that I think this book is bad, but I don't think that it deserved the hype (or Pulitzer) that it received.

First off, the book is not really about the life of Oscar Wao (actually his last name is De Leon). Oscar is a central character but not the main character like the title implies. In my view the main theme about this book is about the lives of the De Leon family and the circumstances that caused them to be in Jersey. This all leads up to Oscar, but its not all about Oscar (if that makes sense).

What is the story really about? It is about the bad luck that follows the De Leon family. It all starts in the Dominican Republic, travels to New Jersey, and back again to the Dominican Republic. The bad luck and the history of the De Leon family is the central theme. In fact, I think that there was more about the Oscar's mother's past than there was about Oscar himself.

The story was written in third person. By an ex-boyfriend of Oscar's sister who is familiar with the family and it's history. This is one of the books weaknesses to me. The narrator has a tendency to use terms that get on my nerves and the language is often time vulgar. Now I don't mind vulgarity normally but I was expecting more since this is a Pulitzer Prize winning book. Also, I think that some of the terms that the author choice to use were wrong. For example, Diaz used the term n**ger alot (not in the racist way) but I think that he should have used n**ga. Now for some people there isn't a difference and they are both offensive. I, personally, think that when using the term in a slang like manner you should use n**ga. It is more of the street term, unless Dominicans use it differently than black people do.

Another thing that bothered me, and another blogger pointed it out was that the footnotes. I think that they were completely unnecessary and just ignored them for the most part. Some of them took up most of the page. This is a fictional story not a history book. Why use footnotes? If you can't put the basic idea in the storyline than why use it. I don't think skipping the footnotes influenced my feeling towards this book.

I read a couple of reviews that compared this book to "The Catcher In The Rye". I don't get the comparison. They are both about boys who don't fit in. But "The Catcher In The Rye" allowed a deeper look into the main character and what they were feeling. I never got to really see what Oscar was feeling. I just sort of had to guest. I would have rather this story been told in Oscar's prospective. I think that it would have been made it a lot better. Instead of guessing why Oscar did the things that he did, I would know and feel a little connected with him.

One of the things that I liked about this books was the glimpse into Dominican cultural beliefs and history. I personally know very about the Dominican Republic and this book did give great backgrounds information.

Pros: History, Culture, Plot
Cons: Language, Characters, Point of View

Overall Recommendation:
I don't know. I am on the fence about this one. I want to recommend it but I don't want to recommend it. It's a toss up.

Library Challenge (8 out of 25)
The Pulitzer Project (2 out of 5)

Pulitzer Prize (2008)
National Book Critics Circle Award (2007)
And others

Other Reviews:
Passion for the Pages
Sew Transformed

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.