Monday, January 31, 2011

TBR Stack: February

*oops, meant to edit out the second "you can find my review on the blog." :P

So, these are the books that I plan on reading in February! I might not get to them all, because like I said, my Nook will be coming and I will want to read my NetGalley books.

But, yeah.

What books do you guys plan on reading this month?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad

Pages: 309
Publisher: Harper
Age Group: Young Adult
Challenges: N/A
Release Date: February 2, 2o1o

How Sweet it is?

Jane Roberts was the average girl next door until she and her best friend, Scarlett Harp, landed their own reality show, L.A. Candy. Now the girls have an all-access pass to Hollywood's hottest everything. But there's more to life on camera than just parties and shopping. . . .
When racy photos of Jane are leaked to the press, she finds herself at the center of a tabloid scandal. She turns to her co-star Madison Parker for help, unaware that Madison is scheming behind the scenes. She might be Jane's shoulder to cry on, but does Madison really have Jane's back?

Scarlett's working on a scandal of her own. She's fallen for someone who's strictly off-limits—which means Scarlett has a big secret to keep . . . from the L.A. Candy cameras, the paparazzi staking out her apartment, even from her best friend.

Of course, nothing stays secret for long for the stars of the newest hit TV series, and all this drama couldn't be better for ratings. But can Jane survive another season in the spotlight?

In television star Lauren Conrad's dishy, entertaining novel about young Hollywood, the lies are only as sweet as the people telling them.

Stars: 4/5
Cover: A-

Ever since the pictures of Jane and Braden were leaked, Jane's life has been crazy-hectic. She constantly has her face in the paper, she has to try to re-gain her "America's Sweetheart" image, she has best friends mad at her, "best friends" stabbing her in the back, and an unhealthy relationship with Jesse.

Sweet Little Lies is a book that runs on scandals, gossip, and love triangles, and Lauren Conrad can completely pull it off. This book is fast-paced, fun, and it completely sucks you in.

Jane is naive and sweet, but she also has backbone, which I love. She is easy to relate to, and you can't help but love her. 

But as Jane and Madison (a.k.a. the she-devil) become closer friends, Scarlett and Jane drift farther apart. I can really understand where Scarlett's frustration towards Jane and Madison comes from, because, even as a reader, it frustrates me. I just want to shout at Jane, "Madison's not really your friend! She's stabbing you in the back!"

I can only hope that in the third book, Madison gets what's coming to her.

The L.A. Candy series is written in third person, but you can still sense the characters' personalties through Lauren Conrad's writing. I love that, because in a lot of books written in third-person, you don't really feel connected to the characters, but that's definitely not the case here.

The ending leaves me going crazy wanting to read the third (and LAST!) book in the series, Sugar and Spice. It's currently waiting for me near the top of TBR-stack, and I can practically hear it calling out to me.

Lauren Conrad is great at cliff-hanger endings, and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

The covers to this series are all gorgeous. They are simple, yet bold, with just one pop of pink or red color.

Lovely Line:
"So why don't you tell him you're sorry?" Gaby suggested.

"Uh  . . . because he probably never wants to speak to me again?"

"How do you know? Do you have a fifth sense, too?"

Scarlett sighed. "No. And I think it's a sixth sense."

"No, I don't see dead people. It's different. Anyway, look, if you like him, and he likes you, just tell him you're sorry. Give him a chance. If he's such a nice guy, he'll probably forgive you, right?"
(Page 232)

The Final Verdict:
This entire series is wonderful. I wish more people would look past the fact that it's written by Lauren Conrad, and automatically assume this book is going to suck. If you can just put the name aside, and focus on the actual content of this book, I really think you'd enjoy it.

FTC: Bought.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

E-Books VS. Physical Books

My mom and step-dad just bought me a Nook Color (it's on back-order and won't arrive for two weeks) for my birthday, so I thought it would be a good idea to compare the Pro's and Con's of reading E-books compared to reading the physical copies of  books.

Physical Books

  • You can actually hold the book (smell it, flip the pages)
  • You can put them on a book shelf
  • You can swap them with anyone (not just someone with the same E-Reader as you)
  • It's fun to shop in the bookstore for them
  • Can read in direct sunlight
  • They take up a lot of space
  • Hard to travel with a lot of them (heavy, and take up room)
  • Can't read in the dark unless with light

  • Don't take up room
  • Can get more free and discounted books
  • NetGalley sends you ARCs of E-books
  • You can buy them instantly
  • You can "share" and "borrow" books from other people with the same E-Reader as you
  • Virtually unlimited storage
  • Save paper, ink, and are more eco-friendly
  • Can read when it's dark thanks to back-lit screen
  • The E-Reader is light and easy to carry around/take everywhere with you
  • You can't hold the book, smell it, or flip through the pages
  • You can only swap books with people that have the same E-Reader
  • Don't always have the covers to the books
  • Relying on battery-life
  • More difficult to read in direct sunlight
Though I am getting an E-Reader, I will definitely always prefer physical copies of the books.

I think an E-Reader will definitely come in handy when traveling to my dad's for the weekend (I won't have to take multiple books) and also I love the fact that you can get books INSTANTLY.

What are your thoughts on E-Books? Which do you prefer? Tell me in the comments below! :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Clique by Lisi Harrison

Pages: 220
Publisher: Little, Brown
Age Group: Middle Grade / Young Adult
Challenges: N/A
Release Date: June 4, 2004

Meet The Clique… 

Massie Block: With her glossy brunette bob and laser-whitened smile, Massie is the uncontested ruler of The Clique and the rest of the social scene at Octavian Country Day School, an exclusive private girls’ school in Westchester County, New York. Massie knows you’d give anything to be just like her. 

Dylan Marvil: Massie's second in command who divides her time between sucking up to Massie and sucking down Atkins Diet shakes. 

Alicia Rivera: As sneaky as she is beautiful, Alicia floats easily under adult radar because she seems so "sweet." Would love to take Massie's throne one day. Just might do it. 

Kristen Gregory: She's smart, hardworking, and will insult you to tears faster than you can say "my haircut isn't ugly!" 

Enter Claire Lyons, the new girl from Florida in Keds and two-year-old Gap overalls, who is clearly not Clique material. Unfortunately, for her, Claire's family is staying in the guesthouse on Massie's family's huge estate while they look for a new home. Claire's future looks worse than a bad Prada knockoff. But with a little luck and a lot of scheming, Claire might just come up smelling like Chanel No. 19.... 

The Clique... the only thing harder than getting in is staying in.

Stars: 4/5
Cover: A-

Claire Lyons moves to Westchester from Florida, and moves into her dad's old best friend's guest house. Her dad's friend has a daughter named Massie, who goes to (and basically dominates) Claire's new school.

Claire just wants to be a part of Massie and her friend's group, but they completely exclude her. 

I didn't the book any justice with the summary there.

I LOVE Lisi Harrison and her books. I first started this series in fifth grade, and I've read it multiple times since then. Also, even though the main characters are seventh graders, I don't feel like I've outgrown this series at all. 

The plot was interesting and exciting. Lisi Harrison told a fun, catty book about girls and cliques.

Even though the girls in Massie's clique were complete and total (insert swear word here), Lisi Harrison still managed to make them realistic by showing their vulnerable and insecure side.

I really like that she did that, because it shows that the main reason people are mean to other people is because they're insecure or have low confidence themselves.

Claire was the perfect naive new girl, yet she knew how to stand up for herself and fight back. 

Todd, Claire's younger brother, was a great comic relief. He was an expert at pestering, getting in trouble, and making Claire's life as difficult as possible.

Lisi Harrison is simply a genius. She comes up with words and cute puns that I would have never expected to see. She thinks up the best come-backs, and I love the way she makes everything fun.

Everything comes together by the end of each book in The Clique series, but Lisi Harrison leaves just a wee bit of a cliffhanger to make you want to pick up the next book and read the next book right away.

I love all of the covers to this entire series; how they all co-incide with each other but are different enough to tell them apart.

Lovely Line:
"Claire stared at the microwave. The clock showed double numbers, which meant she had one minute to make as many wishes as she could before it came 11:12 A.M. She asked for friends at OCD, good grades, Massie's approval, which would lead to Kristin, Alicia, and Dylan's approval, the lead in the school play (whatever it was), a different carpool, braworthy boobs by Christmas, neater handwriting, and faster-growing hair."
(Page 126)

The Final Verdict:
I really recommend this book to middle schoolers and high schoolers. It's a fast, fun, and cute read that leaves you laughing and wanting to dive back into the characters' world.

FTC: Bought.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Waiting On Wednesday" (10)

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

This book seems really awesome! I like the dystopian factor that seems to go along with it; not to mention that the cover is GORGEOUS. 

I really can't wait to read Awaken.

Release Date: May 23, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Pages: 149
Publisher: Tandem Library
Age Group: Middle Grade
Challenges: N/A
Release Date: 1970

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and she's anxious to fit in with her new friends. When she's asked to join a secret club she jumps at the chance. But when the girls start talking about boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret starts to wonder if she's normal. There are some things about growing up that are hard for her to talk about, even with her friends. Lucky for Margaret, she's got someone else to confide in . . . someone who always listens.

Stars: 3.5/5
Cover: B+

Margaret Simons moves to a new school, and she meets a girl named Nancy. Nancy invites Margaret to join in an exclusive club where the girls talk about boys, bras, and getting their periods, she gladly joins.

But when she does, she immediately feels so behind the other girls, and starts questioning whether or not she's normal.

I first read this when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, and I remember liking this book. I didn't know what to expect the first time I read this book --- all I knew is that it was written by the lady who wrote the Superfudge series and that my mom had read it when she was my age and recommended it to me.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed it (the first and second time around). It was cute, entertaining, and a perfect coming-of-age novel.

I thought that the characters in this book were cute. They were your typical sixth graders, and I think Judy Blume made their actions and conversations believable --- it didn't sound like an adult talking through a twelve year old.

Judy Blume's writing is really straight-forward, but still really great. I love the way she writes, and even though the book was old-fashioned, everything was still relatable to. Also, Judy Blume writes really funny things! I found myself smiling and laughing at the things that Margaret would say, or the conversations that she would have with the other characters.

I liked the ending. It was sweet, heartfelt, and it made you want to go, "Awww! Yay, Margaret!"

There are soooo many different covers for this book, but I love the one that I have (pictured above) the best. It has a little circle cut-out, which is always really fun, and the bright colors and illustrations make the book stand out.

Lovely Line:
I didn't move. "You know what, Moose?" I asked.

"What now?"

"I'm sorry I thought you were a liar."

"You know what Margaret?" Moose asked me.

"No, what?"

"You're still in my way."
(Page 144)

The Final Verdict:
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret is a wonderful coming-of-age story. Reading back on it, I'm so glad I'm over that awkward sixth-grade stage! :)

When I finished this book, I actually lent it to my younger sister (who is in the sixth grade). I really think she'll like it, and I hope she gains some insight from it.

Overall, this was a great read, and I suggest it to all girls (. . . or boys) about to enter middle school, or in middle school currently.

FTC: Bought

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sleepless by Terri Clark

Pages: 257
Publisher: Harper Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Challenges: N/A
Release Date: September 1, 2008

The swaying Palms Hotel late-night room-service menu

Tuck-Me-In Tuna Salad on Rye
Catch-Some-ZZZs Cheeseburger and Fries
Up-All-Night Chocolate-Chip Cookies with Milk
Bedtime Banana Split

I can't go to sleep!!! And not because of the cute boy lying next to me. There's a killer stalking me in my dreams. And if it's up to him . . . I'll never wake up. I have to find a way to get him, before he gets me.

Stars: 4/5
Cover: B-

Trinity always has lucid dreams, and her dreams usually involve other people and their deepest, darkest secrets.

When a teen girl goes missing, Trinity dreams about her, and is able to tell the police exactly where to go. Unfortunately, by the time the police get there, the girl is already dead. But, they are able to catch her killer, Rafe.

Rafe claims insanity, and goes away to a mental institution. He escapes, and starts coming to Trinity in her dreams. The only problem is, if he hurts her in the dream, he hurts her in real life. And if he kills her in the dream, then she'll never wake up.

Trinity pairs up with an unlikely friend, and together they try to find Rafe before he finds them.

I really liked Sleepless, and it was even better the second time reading it. It was fast-paced, witty, and fun, while still keeping a creepy and suspenseful edge.

I loved (LOVED) the characters. They were extremely realistic, I could picture them in my head, and they made the story all the better.

I like the way that Terri Clark writes. Sleepless was narrated in first person, and let me tell you, Trinity was a great MC to get to go into the mind of. Sleepless was really exciting, and I'm especially impressed with it since it was a debut book.

The cover isn't that amazing, but it's not too bad, either. I like the simplicity of it, and how it's pretty distinguishable from other books. One thing that I don't like is the font used to write "Sleepless" --- I just don't think it goes well.

Lovely Line:
For most people, dreams are nonsensical fantasies. 

For me dreams are an intrusive, ugly reality. 

And though I thought my worst nightmare had already happened, it was just about to begin.
(Page 20)

The Final Verdict:
I think Sleepless should have a lot more recognition than it does, because it's such a great read. If you haven't heard about this book before now, don't let that stop you from reading it.

I definitely recommend you go read this book. The perfect way to read this book, in my opinion, would be curling up under a blanket on a rainy day and immersing yourself in Trinity's world.

FTC: Bought.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Among The Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Pages: 153
Publisher: Aladdin
Age Group: Middle Grade
Challenges: N/A
Release Date: March 1, 2000

Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.

Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows -- does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?

Stars: 4/5
Cover: B+

I first read this book in fifth grade, and ever since then I have been a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix. I went into Among The Hidden with high expectations because when I had read it before, I loved it. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.

Luke's a third child: illegal, because of the law that people can only have two children so that the world doesn't become over-popuated. He has to stay hidden inside, so that he's not caught by the Population Police.

But one day, he spots a face in a window of a house next to his; a face that doesn't belong to the other two boys that live there.

One day, he sneaks over there, to discover another third child --- a girl named Jennifer. They become fast friends, and she opens his eyes to the government conspiracies and the things they can do to overrule the Population laws.

I loveeeed this book. It was a fast-paced, exciting, and fascinating read. Haddix created a fantastic dystopian world, and she kept me entertained the entire time.

I love the way Margaret Peterson Haddix helps us learn about her characters. She doesn't come right out and tell us their traits, but instead lets us infer how they are through their dialogue and body behavior.

Haddix writes amazing suspense novels. She is able to word things perfectly in order to make us see what she wants us to picture when we read her book. 

I loved the ending. It wasn't wasn't what I had expected, and it gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, things will get better for the shadow children. But, it still leaves a seed of doubt in you, so that you really want to read the rest of the series to find out what will happen.

I like the cover to Among The Hidden. It really depicts what the book's about. It's also eerie, which I loooove.

Lovely Line:
"Matt and me, we've never told anyone about you," Mark said, suddenly serious, which was strange for him. "And you know Mother and Dad don't say anything. You're good at hiding. So you're safe, you know?"

"I know," Luke muttered.

Mark kicked the toy train Luke had crashed. "Still playing with baby toys?" he asked, as if to make up for slipping and being nice.

Luke shrugged. Normally, he wouldn't have wanted Mark to know he played with the train anymore. But today everything else was so bad that it didn't matter.
(Page 14)

The Final Verdict:
Also, even though I would consider this book middle grade, it's a great read for all ages.

I have loved all of Margaret Peterson Haddix's books, and this one is definitely no exception.

If you have a couple of hours to kill, this book is a great time filler.

FTC: I bought this book.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Forever . . . by Judy Blume

Pages: 192
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Age Group: Young Adult (Mature Readers)
Challenges: N/A
Release Date: July 29, 1976

There's a first for everything.

When you build up something in your mind — really imagine it, wish for it — sometimes, when it actually happens, it doesn't live up to your expectations.
True love is nothing like that.

Especially not for Katherine and Michael, who can't get enough of each other. Their relationship is unique: sincere, intense, and fun all at the same time. Although they haven't been together all that long, they know it's serious. A whole world opens up as young passion and sexuality bloom.

But it's senior year of high school, and there are big changes ahead. Michael and Katherine are destined for another big "first": a decision. Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?

Stars: 3/5
Cover: B

Katherine and Michael meet through their friends at a New Year's party. They're instantly attracted to each other, and get along great. Soon enough, they're going out, and falling fast in love.

Forever . . . is the story about your first love, and how not everything, as good as it may seem at the beginning, will have a perfect ending.

To tell you the truth, at first, I didn't really like this book. It started out slow, and I didn't feel any connection the book whatsoever.

It did pick up, though not a ton to where I just couldn't put it down.

Luckily enough, it was a pretty fast read.

I didn't really like the characters too much. They weren't really anything exciting, and didn't have any distinguishing qualities about them.

I actually found Katherine's best friend, Erica, to be irritating. She kind of came across as a know-it-all and a little bit arrogant.

Judy Blume's writing is pretty simple. It felt a lot of times like she was just telling me the story, instead of showing it to me.

There weren't really any descriptions, so when I tried to imagine the characters in my head all I could really see were blurred silhouettes. I feel like the only character she actually described was Michael.

One thing that bugged me about her writing is how many ellipses she uses, when a period would be just fine. It got to be excessive, and made the story appear to drag on.

I actually really liked the ending. It wasn't the perfect happy fairytale ending, like a lot of romance books these days.

There are a lot of different covers for this book, since it's been out for over thirty years, but I'm only going to talk about the most recent cover (the one pictured above).

I like how simple it is, but it's still eye-catching. The pastel covers make it look really soft, and overall, it's a really pretty cover.

Lovely Line:
"I'll show you around the place," he said.

Since I'd already seen the living room and the kitchen, we started with the bathroom. "Notice the indoor plumbing." Michael demonstrated how to flush the toilet.

"Very interesting," I told him.

"And hot and cold running water." He turned on both faucets.

(Page 90)

I thought that part was funny. :)

The Final Verdict:
This book, though not the best book I've ever read (and certainly not the worst), is a good, fast read.

I think Forever . . . is a book that all teen girls should read. Judy Blume is great at writing books that capture what growing up is all about. I remember reading her book for pre-teens, Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, when I was in fifth grade or something.

Her books are kind of like a tradition, because her mom read them when she was my age, and now I'm reading them.

Anyways, if your library has this book, check it out and spend the couple hours that it takes to read it.

FTC: I bought this book.