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Monday, April 4, 2011

Sean Griswold's Head

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
In Sean Griswold's Head, The tragic hero takes the form of Payton, a witty freshman girl with a knack for over-analyzing every situation.
Payton was living the life until she came home from school one day only to hear that her dad was suffering from MS...and that the whole family had known for months known except for her. Crushed by the news, and feeling betrayed, Payton lets her life spiral into ruins. She quits the basketball team, pushes her best friend, Jac, away, and gives her family the ultimate silent treatment. It seems as if all is lost...that is, until Payton's guidance counselor steps in and decides to give her a project: choose a focus object, observe it, analyze it, and, well, focus on it. It'll take Payton's mind off of the mess that has become her life, and maybe even help her open up about her problems. Payton embraces the project with enthusiasm, and chooses the most stable focus object she knows of: Sean Griswold's head. The head that she is forever destined to look at every morning during homeroom (due to very similar last names). Payton's focus object soons turns into a full-blown crush, and soon life gets messier than ever.
One of the reasons I primarily enjoyed this book was Payton's character. She was funny, witty, and the ultimate heroine.  An excerpt from her focus object blog captures it all:
Feb 9
Topic: Cold Hard Facts learned based upon five questions experiment.
1. Sean is an only child. So we do not know who answered the phone when Jac called.
2. He pops pills because he gets headaches.
3. He wants to be the next Ironman.
4. He likes to feel in control.
5. I still don't know where the scar came from. Although, I wasn't focusing on it much once his jacket came off.* Hello, arm muscles.

*Sorry, I'm dehydrated and the searing pain in my buns is causing me to not think straight. I shouldn't objectify Sean like that, although he is a Focus OBJECT so maybe...).
Sorry again, fatigue driven delirium is setting in.

But besides her witty voice, the book also contains a deep plot. There's romance, friendship, first love, growing up, and dealing with her father's illness. There's catfights, underwear shopping, and seventy-five mile long bike marathon.
This book's got it all. However, some questions are left unresolved, which does leave the reader unsatisfied. Also, the plot does have some slow points where you have to grit your teeth and pull through                                                                                                               ,but those are few and far between.
In general, a good read. Not too crazy. Not too out of this world. But good, nonetheless.
For those who enjoy Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls novels, or Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

4 out of 10
Slightly superficial. Predictable. Bland characters.
These are the words used to describe The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy.
Jess Parker, a girl who ordinarily blends into the masses of her high school, moves to Mt. Sterling High and is suddenly recruited by the most popular girls in the school to be part of a secret society: The Cinderella Society. The purpose of this exclusive group is to build confidence and be the best person you can be. Oh, and to fight their evil counterparts The Wickeds.
A little romance, a little friendship, and a LOT of girl power. These are the ingredients that make up The Cinderella Society.
Cassidy's story wasn't exactly a page turner. There was tons, and I mean tons of pages that were dedicated solely to the "Cinderella Society" and their mission to help the regular people in the world, "Reggies", stand up to the "Wickeds" and trump their attempts for world domination.
I really don't care.
And then there were the characters. No characters were consistent, and Cassidy refused to delve underneath the surface of some major players in the game. For example, the other "Cindys", as Jess refers to her fellow society members, take the roles of her best friends, like Sarah Jane for example. But, even by the end of the book, I don't know anything more about Sarah Jane than I did when I was first introduced. She's still the perfect all-american girl that is super nice and perfect perfect perfect.
How original.
Cassidy fleetingly mentions SJ's problems with her parents divorce, but never returns to the subject. I couldn't connect to any characters at all, nor could I differentiate between any of them. The names were muddled up in my mind because Cassidy refused to give them distinct personalities.
Not only that, this book was cheesy. Girl Power. Go for the gold. Good defeats evil. Be yourself.
I've heard it all before.
The only good thing about this book was the romance part. Cassidy constructed a interesting relationship between Jess and her love interest Ryan Steele, that basically carried the book.
For those who enjoyed Oh.My.Gods by Tera Lynn Childs or Private novels by Kate Brian.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Overall Rating: 5 out of 10
Okay, so I realized my posts were a bit lengthy and not really that fun to read. So I'm going to keep it short and sweet from now on.
Phoebe, resident goth girl at Oakvale high school, lives in a world where dead American teenagers can come back to life. Soon, Phoebe realizes she's falling for one, Tommy Williams, and also befriending the other "zombies" that roam Oakvale's halls, including her old best friend, Colette. However, Phoebe's current best friends aren't exactly sure how they feel about this, especially Adam, the popular football player who harbors feelings for Phoebe that surpass the normal friendship. Not only are her best friends hesitant about this newfound relationship, but so are the "Pain Crew", Adam's old football buddies whose title is pretty much self-explanatory.
I did enjoy this book. At first, I admit it, the plot was slow, but it picked up speed and at the end I couldn't put it down. So many sub-plots, and a surprising twist in the plot that completely threw me. Also, the interesting slew of characters helped make Generation Dead a little more interesting. Rarely do we view the world through the eyes of a goth girl, and some chapters also take the point of view of Adam, or the Pain Crew's leader, Pete Martinsburg. With dead people, goth chicks, popular football players, bullies, and even a scrawny sweetheart named Thorny, it's hard to resist not connecting with at least some of the emotions and characters in this novel.

One last thing: the story might have focused on dead people, but it was really about acceptance. So if you think you're not into the dark scene, don't rule out this story. It really applies to life for everyone.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Harper

Overall Rating: 4 out of 10 (Spoilers below) 
You'd think that Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, would end the rebellion of the Districts against the Capitol, would reveal Katniss' choice of boy (Personally, I'm Team Peeta) and everything would work out right. There would be action, as there was in the previous novels, and even romance. 
If that was what you were expecting, you were wrong. 
Mockingjay focuses on the rebellion of the Districts, that is true. But mostly Harper writes about the politics. The people of the capitol will shoot a video of Katniss and distribute it to the people of Panema. They will have to win over District 2, and ensure the other towns that their choice to rebel is the right one. 
There is little action. Little fighting. And Peeta is barely in the book. 
I was greatly, greatly disappointed. 
Especially with the ending. I think that is what frustrated me the most. Katniss goes off the deep end for a while, never taking a step out of the kitchen, and Peeta and her rekindle their love in a mere two sentences. After he is so intent on murdering her, and then hating her, he just gets over everything in a blink. And that's the end of the story. With all that happened in the last two books, you'd think it would be a little more intense than that. 
Additionally, they barely discuss what happened after the rebellion. How does it change the world? All the readers know is that the capitol and the Hunger Games are gone. 
What policies are different? Who is the president (after Katniss kills the current president after the rebellion)? How are the living standards different? 
Harper did a poor job of wrapping up the stories. It felt rushed, and was slightly depressing. 
Another low point was Katniss' choice of boys. I was expecting this huge love triangle struggle. She likes Gale, she likes Peeta, Gale is her best friend, Peeta went through the Hunger Games with her. I don't know about everyone else, but I was anticipating a huge decision based on true love that Katniss makes. Instead, the circumstances make it for her. As a result of Gale's ideas, Prim dies and in a nutshell, Katniss can never look at him the same way again. She will never truly forgive him. 
Okay, so that leaves Peeta. 
See, the solution to her struggle was kind of a let down, to tell you the truth. 
But, the story was creative and carefully planned out. However, I felt that if Katniss was sort of losing the will to fight, and the fire in her that drew readers in the first place seemed to slowly be burned out. 
As a fan of the Hunger Games series, I recommend that you read this book for closure. I'm just not sure if you're going to like it. 
For fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordian, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, and Uglies by Scott Westerfield. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella

Overall Rating: 6 out of 10
I thought Becky's charm was fading. I thought that her and Luke's relationship was getting a little boring. Suze rarely appears in the novels anymore. Jess is leaving.
I was not excited for this last book, let me tell you. I thought it would be a chore to read, and I would be yawning as I flipped the pages reluctantly. You can only drag the adventures on for so long, until it dries up.
But Kinsella managed to turn this book into a true Shopaholic novel. It's exciting, keeps you turning the page, and even brings back some characters and introduces a few new ones as well.
Like Venetia Carter. Becky's obstetrician. This woman is a celebrity obstetrician - she hosts tea parties for her famous clients, paparazzi stalk the door of her office, aaaandd she was Luke's ex-girlfriend.
Becky, on the verge of collapse (literally, she's waddling around pregnant), must now handle her shopping craze, pregnancy, job, oh, and she thinks that Luke is having an affair.
Kinsella spins a tale that reminds me once again why I like the books so much. Becky brings a little something extra to reality. She takes an ordinary life and turns it into an exciting (and very funny) adventure.
Readers fall in love with our heroine, Becky, turned the victim of a cheating husband and an evil obstetrician, as she deals with the problems in her own special way. I thought she couldn't surprise me, but yet she manages to. From hiring a private eye, to faking a birth, to using a woman's house for a Vogue shoot (titled Yummy Mummys).
Whether we are either laughing at her ideas, or hating Venetia with such a passion, Kinsella's story is a great closure to the series. Even though I wish it wouldn't end.

Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella

Overall Rating: 5 out of 10
And when we thought Kinsella couldn't possibly bring another surprise into the series, she manages to shock us yet again. Except this time it's a sister. Becky's long lost sister, to be exact.
Becky's long lost sister who HATES shopping.
Guess what shoe belongs to Becky..
Yup, you read right. Jess is a frugal, athletic girl who would rather spend her time at a protest to save the environment than at a designer sample sale.
Obviously there's something wrong, here. Or at least that's what Becky thinks. So she attempts to connect with her sister: take her shopping and let her see the light. But Jess isn't the sister Becky was hoping for. And through all of Becky's adventures (which get crazier as the books progress. i.e. Becky scales a mountain to search for Jess in high heels and designer jeans, or when she manages to successfully protest the construction of a strip mall), she tries to STILL deal with her debt and shopping addiction.
How is it that Becky's debt is fixed at the end of each novel in the series only to reappear in the next one?
I must admit that Shopaholic and Sister was my least favorite in the series. Although it was an interesting idea, it failed to grab my attention and the humor didn't nearly meet the standards I had set from reading the previous books.
But, still a good read. Especially if you're a shopaholic fan like I am. Shopaholic and Baby, coming soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10 
Shopaholic has been in debt up to her Gucci-glasses-covered-eyeballs. She has been to London, New York, and is now living with her millionaire of a boyfriend, Luke Brandon. She has been on TV, wrote a story that appeared in a major magazine, and has also hosted her own auction, raising thousands of dollars. 
She has not yet been married. 
So that's what's next for the shopaholic as she plans her future with Luke. Only one problem: his (super-uptight) stepmom demands that there be an extravagant wedding in New York. Her family wants to hold a quaint backyard wedding in London. 
So what does Becky do? 
She accepts both...without them knowing, of course. 
Kinsella spins yet another tale of Becky's loony adventures through shopping, and now, wedding planning. It's still the same fun story as the other books, and we must applaud Kinsella for coming up with the fresh twist, but there is a problem with this story. 
One: Becky's antics spiral into the realm of downright frustrating. JUST TELL THE TRUTH! We want to scream at her. But, we can't. We have to suffer through pages of her agonizing purchases and lies until she manages to resolve everything in the end. 
Fortunately, Kinsella saves us from putting the book down and revives the story with humor, romance, and subplots that keep it moving. Additionally, the solution and problems Becky manages are realistic. At the start of the novel, I must admit, I was a little worried. I was thinking the solution to the double-wedding crisis would involve some sort of robot clone or even time travel. 
Luckily, that's not what happened. 
Although the heroine tends to get a little frustrating in this book, readers cant help but to still love her and wanting more. The story is new and fresh and keeps us entertained with our favorite group of characters. 
Stay posted for a review on the next novel, Shopaholic and Sister