Notice for Review Requests

I receive review requests weekly. However, my personal schedule is hectic and I no longer review actively. (I also manage another blog called The Toronto Cafe and Food Blog). I do read every request sent but I apologize in advance that I do not reply to them all.

If I do take on a request, I will forewarn that it may take some time before I can review it. I am now looking to review adult fiction and self-help books instead of young adult fiction because I have grown out of it. If you are to request a review for either adult fiction or self-help, I will more likely to give it a shot.

In the meantime, Stop, Drop, and Read! serves as an archive book review blog. When I have the time, I may post a review. Thank you for understanding.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

In My Mailbox - XXVI

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed


Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives vol. 1 by Ellen Schreiber & rem
The Knockout Makers vol. 2 (not shown) - 3 by Kyoko Hashimoto
Yumekui Kenbun: Nightmare Inspector vol. 2-4 by Shin Mashiba

The Bought

None

The Received

David Inside Out by Lee Bantle
Dreamdark: Silksinger by Laini Taylor
Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

Okay, my reviews may be slowed down for the next couple of weeks. Exams are coming up and I'm dying because I barely started studying. I will try to squeeze some more reading in between the time and hopefully keep myself tamed away from the computer. You can see the books I'm in the middle of on the sidebar under the Goodreads widget.

Thank you Diane for the Literacy Blogger Award over at The Book Resort! If I go back and count all the awards I have received, at least 9/10 are from you. Haha, thank you for being an awesome follower! =)

Contest Alert: Tomorrow is the last day to enter to win 1 of 5 copies of Hollywood Car Wash by Lori Culwell. Click here to enter before it's too late! I will announce winners on Wednesday (if I can)!

Edit: I'm now on Twitter! Feel free to add me! http://twitter.com/StopDropandRead

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Title: Little Brother
Author: Cory Doctorow
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: 382
My Rating: 5/5

Life has changed over so many decades. We now live in a world full of technology that dominates our everyday lives. We can buy rare items online, talk to our cousins living on the opposite side of Earth, and so much more. But what happens when the very thing that we rely so heavily on turns against us?

Into ARGs (alternate reality games) and follows the network world very closely, Marcus is smart kid with hacking skills that could even infiltrate a bank if he wanted to. He decides to skip school one day to play an ARG game called Harajuku Fun Madness. This requires him and his teammates (who are also his closest friends) to physically get outside and do something like a scavenger hunt with the clues they are given.

While on the streets in the middle of the game, the ground starts shaking. When Marcus looks up into the sky, he sees a huge cloud of smoke spreading outwards. Something blew up. Something big blew up. Marcus's life will never be the same ever again as he fights against the paranoid government to win back his freedom. But can he outwit them when every technology he uses can be traced back to catch him?

This book is bloody brilliant. This is going to be one of my long novel reviews where I take over a couple of hours (and neglect my big school project that I barely started) to make it sound like the greatest thing ever.

Little Brother jumps into the action right away. Therefore, no need to beat around the bush because the excitement is waiting for you right in the beginning. Marcus and many others near the area where the Bay Bridge of San Francisco was blown up were taken into custody under the suspicion of being possible terrorists. Since Marcus brought along his gizmos for Harajuku Fun Madness, it made him even more suspicious. They interrogated him near death when he was just a seventeen years old boy who wanted to have fun. After release, he vowed to take down the Department of Homeland Security who treated the everyone like criminals. With his knowledge and networks, Marcus tried to expose the real terror that people thought was helping them.

I felt like I was reading about World War III but on a smaller scale with high-tech stuff. It is a mind-blowing novel that shows what measures people would take because they believe what they are doing is right when in actuality, it is the complete opposite. It is very realistic and I pray that this would never occur. Different messages are delivered throughout the book. One of the many is go vote if you can. After you're done Little Brother, you would want to start being informed about your own government. It shows if you don't elect your leaders who also support your views, things can get out of hand if something big occur (like terrorism).

You should also expect to see a lot of information about the networking universe. Marcus explains them all simply for you to understand even if you have no idea what The Onion Router is. It makes you feel smarter and who doesn't want a book that does that? I regret not taking computer sciences because now I'm urged to do geeky computer things I don't know how to do.

I was actually not keen on the romance part of the story. And yes, there are hints about sex but the scenes themselves are skipped over. It was the action and the geek terms that I looked forward to the most. I'm sure you would too. I think the author is a genius and should be ph3@r3d (feared). He weaved a thrilling and terrifying world that you want to be and survive in. So, pick up a copy of Little Brother and read, vote, and hack!

(Did you know the whole time I was writing Cory instead of Marcus? I realized near the end that I switched the character's name with the author's!

And oh darn, I spent nearly four hours on this review believe it or not...)

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yokai Doctor by Yuki Sato

Title: Yokai Doctor
Mangaka: Yuki Sato
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 3
My Rating: 4/5

Kotoko Kasuga's grandfather use to exorcise spirits and she inherits a bit of his special ability. But all she can do is see them, not get rid of them! Except with all the students in her school knowing about her sixth sense, she pretends that she is able to exorcise yokai (otherworldly spirits). What does a girl gotta do when she has a strange talent?

When she sees the new student, Kuro, speaks to a small yokai he nearly tripped over, she knows he is just like her. That same day, she requests him to become her friend.

Kuro has a secret. He is a yokai doctor, someone who helps cure yokais when they are sick or injured. He recently arrived on Earth to learn more about humans. When Kotoko asks him to be her friend, he can not be more thrilled. He never had a human friend before so this makes him very happy. But then, he finds out that Kotoko really hates yokai! Should he reveal to her his secret?

In the first two chapters of the first volume, you are given both sides of the story in perspectives of Kuro and Kotoko. It briefs you on both of the protagonists' lives and how they come to be the person they are today. They also have their own little secrets and I am eager to discover more about Kuro. I love his innocent-with-glasses demeanor because there aren't a lot of main characters like that in manga (aside Negi from Negima! but he's ten years old). From how he is displayed so far, I'm sure he'll become even cooler later on! Kuro and Kotoko are characters that appear to be naive but after you continue reading it, they are both strong and admirable in their own way. I can't wait to see how their relationship develops! I'm sure there is romance and there better be!

Yokai Doctor is a cute and new series with a different take on your usual spirit-themed mangas. There is a great balance of humour and seriousness throughout. I think shojo fans would enjoy it. There is also a couple of adorable yokais in it that you can't help but be "awww!" over! From the preview of the second volume, Yokai Doctor seems like it's just starting to get exciting!

Review copy provided by Del Rey.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

Title: Heavenly
Author: Jennifer Laurens
Description: I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoë's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoë lost in her broken life. Zoë escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoë's autistic sister. After Zoë is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.



Who thinks the model for the guy in this is cute? I think he definitely is and the first I've seen in a book trailer, haha!

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Maid War Chronicle by RAN

Title: Maid War Chronicle
Mangaka: RAN
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 4
My Rating: 4/5

The kingdom of Arbansbool is suddenly attacked by its enemies, so the perverted prince escapes from his palace with his six beautiful maids! They go to the Shrine of Martin because legend has it that is where the kingdom's powers lie.

After they dodge a booby-trap in the shrine, the gang find themselves in a room with an elaborate table. There are different stones stuck to it, each with a different marking. The prince suddenly dubs all of his maids to be his knights. It is a foolish idea, considering that all they know is how to serve tea. But when one of them touches the stone, a weapon appears in her hands. One by one, they all get their own weapon. Maid Cacao does not like the fact that she has to fight like a warrior... Until the monster guardian of the holy weapons reveals himself to test if the maids are worthy enough to wield them! Cacao immediately touches one of the stones and gets herself a magical sword. She destroys the guardian in victory!

Now the maids and their lecherous master must find their allies before the enemies get them. Adventures with cute girls and magic, this manga is filled with humour and fantasy action!

For an adventure manga, Maid War Chronicle has lots of funny scenes and characters! I love the maid Vanilla because she is so adorable with her clumsiness and innocence! I usually don't like ditzy characters but RAN made his so lovable. Everyone in the story made it more enjoyable with their personality mixed into the bunch! Their journey is also well paced and blends from one location to the next. I am wondering if there will be any romance in this series because there is no hint on it yet. Though I am most curious how it ends!

Maid War Chronicle is a great summer read for those who wants something light and new! I am looking forward to the second volume!

Review copy provided by Del Rey.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

In My Mailbox - XXV

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed

None

The Bought


Kurohime vol. 6, 10 by Katakura Masanori
Red Angel vol. 2 by Makoto Tateno
The Art of Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play by Yuu Watase


Original Cloud Headshot ($5!!!!)
Kakashi Print ($6)
Artist's Original Character Mini Print ($0.25!!!)
Naked Neji Bookmark ($0.50!!!)
Kuroshitsuji Poster ($12)


Original Sheep Version of Me! ($1!!!!)


Love-Squared.com Large T-Shirt and Mouse Pad (FREE!)


Different Business Cards by Different Artists (FREE, duh!)

The Received


20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Yokai Doctor vol. 1 by Yuki Sato

Hell yes I went to Anime North yesterday! I know I usually do In My Mailbox only for only books and maybe DVDs that need to be reviewed but honestly, how can I resist not showing off my stash?

All four books in the first picture were ONLY $5 each! I was flipping with joy! Actually, there were hundreds of different manga series for only $5 each volume but I no longer waste my money on old (and likely bad) mangas like I used to just to increase my collection. My original goal was to get all of Kurohime that is out in North America so far except for the eighth volume, which I already have. I calculated and planned to strike a bargain with a dealer of $50 for 10 volumes. After I managed to luckily find the sixth and tenth volume in a $5 each deal, I decided I will try to find similar deals like that next year. Believe me, I was running around the centre trying to find other $5 Kurohime volumes for a couple of hours. Sadly the rest were only at US cover price (I like to find a deal on top of the US cover price or better). Now that I think of it, there was another dealer where I could've gotten another three volumes of Kurohime for good price but I didn't have a calculator with me to check (Yes, can you believe how frikkin cheap I am?). I will seriously worship anyone who gets me the rest of Kurohime, that series it made for me. That and Ouran High School Host Club are the only two series I am truly following. Gawd, I hope my future boyfriend can handle my manga obsession.

I honestly brought with me well of $300 and yet I still manage to spend under $100 at an anime convention (and that includes the $40 entrance fee!)! My cousin kept telling me to buy more things but I refused. I was even reluctant to buy the Kakashi print and Kuroshitsuji poster! I kept telling her to stop pressuring me but now I wished she continued to egg me on... (I'm sorry Vian! Please continue to bother me if we go next year together to buy more things if I continue to be cheap!) There were so many GORGEOUS prints and posters but I was freaking out that my mom would kill me. (Surprisingly, she didn't. Then again I avoided telling her what I bought). Oh, but don't you just love the chibi version of me in a sheep suit? It's so cute! I forgot I had it so I didn't combine to the second image until I already had the poster and prints up in my room.

Whenever I go to conventions, I would collect the business cards of artists who were selling there. Their cards are simply so pretty and who knows, I might commission them one day! There was also this online dating site for anime fans. The people who were trying to jump start it were handing out free t-shirts if you signed up. I'm addicted to free things so I couldn't resist. The next thing I knew I was signed up on an online dating site... Ah well, we'll see how that goes haha.

But I know I will definitely go back to Anime North next year. I had withdrawal symptoms when I skipped out last year and it was like a drug because I kept feeling so bad about it... (It lasted for a week or so).

And what I truly got in my mailbox this week was pretty satisfying. I will have the review up for Yokai Doctor on Wednesday or so because I have another manga review scheduled for tomorrow (if I manage to finish writing it on time that is). Hopefully I will get to 20 Boy Summer soon but I have quite a bit I need to still get through. And oh joy, I just found out I need to return Little Brother by Cory Doctorow next Saturday which I still haven't started. Ack!

Anyway, sorry for the long post today. I never write about personal things on individual posts so I tend to tack everything in In My Mailbox. Peace out!

CONTEST ALERT: I am hosting a 5 copies giveaway of the fabulous novel, Hollywood Car Wash. Click here or scroll down to enter! Ends June 1/09!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Title: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: 183
My Rating: 4/5

Dumped by his three-week girlfriend, guitarist Nick is on the brink of depression. He believes no one but Tris will be his one and only. After his band performance at a club, he sees his ex-girlfriend with another guy. Desperate and can not bear to be witnessed alone, he asks a random girl beside him to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes.

Norah is your plain Jewish girl with profanity spewing out of her mouth every other second. At a club, she is hanging out with her slutty but good friend, Caroline. But she never expects anyone to ask her to be their girlfriend. Seeing the evil Tris, she immediately agrees by pulling down the handsome stranger for a very sexy (and unplanned) kiss.

Supposedly this is all pretend for that brief five minutes, but they find themselves falling hard for each other. Travelling around the city in a cab and a broken Yugo, the late night and early morning is full of passion, truth, confusion, and most importantly, music.

When I first started reading, the way the characters spoke through the pages got me confused. I honestly didn't think normal teenage guys and girls spoke the way they did! But their language and thoughts were definitely enthralling. It kept me turning the pages because I enjoyed being in their head. I advise you that if you plan to pick up Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, take your time to read it! If you don't, then you will not understand what they are talking about sometimes. There are also lots of music references (and most of them are not mainstream) so I tend to get lost in those.

I can definitely see why this book became a movie. It's very realistic and it makes you want to go out and be bad! Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is a very fun read that takes on the minds of a male and female who just met, entangled in a new and strange relationship. I warn you that there are a lot mature content in case you are easily offended by profanity, sexual acts, and so forth.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Author Interview: Lori Culwell + 5 COPIES GIVEAWAY

Hey guys! Today I grace you with another author interview! This time, introducing the awesome Lori Culwell!

Lori wrote the ultra fabulous Hollywood Car Wash! And she graciously agreed to do an interview after I told her I became a new and happy fan on her blog! If you would like to learn more about the novel, check it out here: http://www.hollywoodcarwash.com/. Or communicate with Lori through her blog here: http://www.funnystrange.net/. SCROLL DOWN FOR GOODIES!

You are not a full-time fiction author. Can you please tell us what you do?

In "real life" I am a writer and creative director for websites. Actually, I have another book that also just came out, on that subject: Million Dollar Website (http://www.amazon.com/Million-Dollar-Website-Compete-BusinessBudget/dp/0735204411/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241494281&sr=1-2).

What was it like to take up the project?

It was daunting, just in the amount of work necessary to make the story come together. I had to put myself on a schedule and stick to it!

What was the most difficult part of writing it? And what was the easiest part?

It's always easy to write funny scenes--- just like telling someone a good story at a dinner party. It's the putting them into a compelling story that's hard. So, definitely stringing the elements of the story together. And rewriting! Oh my gosh-- rewriting is really hard. You have to really push yourself.

With so many celebrities and TV references, did those require research or are you just naturally an entertainment addict?

My husband is in the entertainment industry and I grew up near Los Angeles, and we have a lot of friends who are on shows or involved with them. Not only do I read the magazines and go to the websites, but I also hear a lot of real-life crazy stories-- after awhile, these stories started to be so funny and bizarre that I had to put them into a book.

Are you going to continue writing fiction?

Absolutely! I really enjoy creating a story that can make people laugh, keep them company on a sick day, or help pass a plane flight. There's nothing better than getting lost in a book!

Do you have any current projects you are working on at the moment?

I have a Young Adult fiction project in the works, and a couple of other things. :)

Are there any ideas in mind for stories that you hope to become reality?

Well, I have one about a food-phobic newspaper intern that I did for National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org) -- that's going to need a lot of editing, but there's a good concept in there!

Lastly, give us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know of!

I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go. Sometimes when I'm driving in my car or out walking my dog, I have to stop and write a bunch of stuff down. Sometimes I feel like there's a river of words in my mind, and I have to catch them!

~~~

Now isn't Lori just fab? I am really eager to find out about her new YA novel! (She is all hush-hush about it). But I'm sure you are all waiting for this: She is donating five SIGNED (lucky ducks!) copies of Hollywood Car Wash and YOU can win one of them! (Yay, my first-ever contest! Be proud of me fellas!). And you can only win one copy! Sorry, gotta be fair!

Please do this all in a separate post (and I trust that you guys will not lie). And leave a link so I see that you are telling the truth for certain entries!:

1+ = comment in this post here
1+ = comment on my review of Hollywood Car Wash
2+ = if you are already a follower either through blog roll, Google Reader, or both (sorry, chances won't double if you do both but you will get lots of love!)
1+ = if you just became a follower either through blog roll, Google Reader, or both (sorry, chances won't double if you do both but you will get lots of love!)
1+ = post this contest on your blog or whatnot (sidebar is fine)

Contest ends on June 1, 2009! (May be extended) And I apologize, US mailing addresses only! International readers: Sorry, I know how ya feel! You will have your chance for other book giveaways soon, I promise!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Title: Strange Angels
Author: Lili St. Crow
Description: Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.)

Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever—or whoever— is hunting her?



Can anyone guess why I chose this trailer for this week? Well, I don't need to say cause I'm sure you do! I am totally getting this! (And hopefully won't regret it!) It's such a thrilling trailer!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Ultra Maniac by Wataru Yoshizumi

Title: Ultra Maniac
Mangaka: Wataru Yoshizumi
Age Group: Youth
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 5
My Rating: 3/5

Ayu is a pretty seventh grader with a crush on the most popular boy in her grade, Tetsushi. It is her goal to become cooler so he can notice her. She becomes friends with Nina, the new transfer student. At first Ayu thinks she is really weird. But not as weird until Nina tells her she is a witch!

Apparently Nina is terrible at magic so she became a dropout back in her world. Now she is studying abroad on Earth. She tries to help Ayu with her love problems by casting a couple of spells. Unfortunately, magic can get a little out of control!

Later on, Nina and Ayu become very close. Then someone starts threatening Nina to go back to the Magic Kingdom! Who could possibly know about her being a witch??

Love, magic, and friendship, Ultra Maniac is a great story for young girls who are looking for a way to be exposed to the world of manga!

In the first volume, I did not like Ultra Maniac. It's because Ayu is all about being cool. I think it is childish and since I am no longer in elementary, I dislike the fact that kids nowadays are trying to be all grown-up. Isn't being young all about having fun? Not trying to get someone to like you? Romance in seventh grade is a definite no-no for me. Way too young to start thinking about that kind of stuff. I think the lovey-dovey content would been more suitable if the characters were in high school. It was by the third volume that I did not mind it so much anymore.

Otherwise, it is a good read for the younger audience. I was able to finish the series without disliking it completely. It is definitely something a preteen girl can enjoy.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

In My Mailbox - XXIV

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed


The Knockout Makers vol. 1 by Kyoko Hashimoto

The Bought

None

The Received


Death By Bikini by Linda Gerber

Not a lot but I'm glad to have finally received Death by Bikini from a contest I won awhile back. I'm sure next week I will buy a bit cause I'm going to an anime convention!

So how's everyone's mailboxes?

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Need by Carrie Jones

Title: Need
Author: Carrie Jones
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 306
My Rating: 2.5/5

Phobia collector Zara moves to Maine to live with her spunky grandmother after her stepfather's death (who she consider as her real father). It is cold out there but her mother thinks that she needs a change of environment because she has not been herself lately.

Ever since the painful heart attack incident of her father's, she start seeing a strange man wherever she goes. It is a scary thought to have a stalker and she can not shake off the bad feeling whenever he's near. Who is he and what does he want with her?

On the first day of school, Zara nearly rams into a MINI Cooper. When the owner of the car emerges, she sees how gorgeous he is. His name is Nick and she can not tear her eyes away from him.

She also befriends her classmates, Issie and Devyn. They both come up with an absurd idea of who she is being followed by: a pixie. And not the nice kind you find in fairy tales that dances under pretty flowers. No, the extremely dangerous kind that goes around and kidnaps boys. Zara does not believe it at first because really, pixies? But not long after, she start thinking that it may be true. Several times already, she notices a trail of gold dust he leaves behind. Not only that but the townspeople are holding onto some secrets of their own, ones that will change Zara's life forever.

I have been waiting to get my hands on Need for a couple of months from the library. I was really eager to start it because many people liked it. Sadly, it let me down.

The writing got to me the most. Written in present tense and first person, the details were limited. Extremely limited. It was a little difficult for an imaginative person like me to read without the descriptive paragraphs. If the scenes could not be described, the character's thoughts could have been elaborated on in the situations. I liked to be able to visualize a bit of what was going on but I had to force it in Need. Eventually I gave up and just read it through.

I have been seeing a lot of repetitive themes nowadays in YA novels. So with the new girl in town and how she meets (and not to mention gets) the hottest guy there concept was used, I was not thrilled at all. However, I liked that Need was about evil pixies. It would have been more provocative if the writing itself was expanded on because it definitely had great potential. I thought the climax near the end was most exciting though it would have been better if it had a more twisted twist. Like something you would find in a horror movie. Sadly it was not a horror genre so it could not fulfil my wish.

Need was a little slow-moving and I received the impression of the atmosphere being bleak and grey. Something I was not very earnest for either. I recommend Need for Twilight and Generation Dead fans.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Author Interview: Jennifer Swanson

How many people here were readers since they were kids and used to love picture books? And at the same time, how many loved puppies and dogs (or still do)? I know I was both.

Jennifer Swanson is a children's author and her debut picture story is Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting. Based on the author's once beloved dogs, Penny and Rio are complete opposite canines. After moving into the new home, curious Penny wants to find out what kind of meeting some animals are having in the backyard. But will Rio help her crack the mystery or prefers to sleep instead?

Today I give you a quick interview with Jennifer and her work! If you would like to learn more about her or her books, check at www.pennyandrio.com.

First, what inspired you to write Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting?

I actually wrote this book for a writing course I was taking at the time. I love mysteries and dogs, so it seemed like a great match. I used the hilarious antics of my own dogs, Penny and Rio, as the basis for the book, added a mystery and voila, I had a book.

What was the easiest part of writing it?

Writing about the dogs. I could pull from the funny things they had done in their lives. At one point, the real Penny dug out 3 foot tall flower planter and used to sit in it with only her head poking out. Naturally, I had to put that in the story. It was just too cute!

Sounds very cute indeed! And what was the hardest part?

Figuring out the mystery is the toughest part for me. I have written several mysteries and I never know how it's going to work out until right at the last minute. I can have the whole plot to the story outlined and I'll leave spots for "find something here" or "another clue". Then it some times takes me days or weeks to figure out what goes there. Kind of crazy, but that's how I do it.

Did you work with a general idea and go with it or did you figure out the entire plot beforehand?

As I said above, I can usually figure out the plot pretty quickly. It comes together in a couple of days, but adding the specifics some times takes me longer.

Do you have any projects you are working on right now or later in the future?

I am in the final edits of the second Penny and Rio book. It will be released in August of 2009. The title is Penny and Rio: The Locked Doghouse Mystery. In this book, Penny and Rio meet Hobbes, a Great Dane, and also Squeaky the mouse. They have to help Squeaky recover his lost treasure. I have also recently completed a mid-grade novel- also a mystery. This one involves four girls and outlines the ups and downs of their friendship and also gives them a big mystery to solve.

Have you ever thought about writing for young adults? If so, what kind of novel would you like write?

Maybe one day.. I've heard that every writer has a voice in their head reflective of their characters. Well, my "voice" is between 9- 12 years old, so I don't think I'll write for young adults any time soon. But maybe when my "voice" grows up. (Of course, I guess that means that my voice is also that of a dog, too. I wonder a little about that).

What are you reading at the moment?

I just discovered Rick Riordan's books about Percy Jackson and the Olympians. What a great series! I also love to read mysteries, so I just finished Anne Perry's Execution Dock.

Do you have any last words?

Thanks for this opportunity to speak with you.

And thank you, Jennifer!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Orange Planet by Haruka Fukushima

Title: Orange Planet
Mangaka: Haruka Fukushima
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 6
My Rating: 3.5/5

Rui's parents died when she was a young girl. She ran away from their funeral for a brief time and tearfully bumped into an older boy. He promised her the brightest star in the sky and that her parents would always be watching over her. Feeling much better, she came home to find a teddy bear with a letter waiting for her. It was from him. It read, "Whenever you get sad, write a letter to Haru-san."

Now in high school, Rui lives by herself and continuously writes letters to the mysterious "Haru" ever since. He never replies back but she hopes in her heart that he reads them.

Planning to give a love letter to her crush, Kaoru, at his apartment, Rui accidentally witnesses a guy making out with some a girl. Embarrassed, she runs away before she could give the letter.

Later in the day, she comes back for her second attempt. Except one of the apartments is on fire! Without a second thought, she dashes to the burning area to find the same playboy from before. He saves her when a lamp comes crashing down upon them. So in return for saving her, Eisuke now lives with her!

Life just got interesting because not only will Rui see Eisuke at home, but at school as well! He is an intern and will be teaching her class from then on! Surprises keep popping up and she does not know that three boys like her at once, including her cute next-door neighbour/old friend, Taro! But, who will truly pull the strings to her heart?

I did not like the manga for the first couple of chapters. It was the art that bothered me instead of the plot. It was cute but at the same time, bothersome because of the way the eyes were drawn and lines used on the character designs. Eisuke looks nothing like a college student. In fact, he appears to be the same age as Rui and her friends! When I can't distinguish age in the manga, it gets a little frustrating because I know how old the character really is. I got used to the art toward the end of Orange Planet but I still wish the style is a little more different.

The manga is simplistic in the simplest way possible. It's a story where the orphan protagonist gets confused by her new and sudden "love" life. Your typical shojo. There is nothing fresh to the same old and reused plot so therefore, it is hard to get into it without the special "thing" that would entice you to continue.

The mangaka did not create anything original that makes me eager for the second volume but she knows how to leave a cliffhanger so her audience will be curious. Recommended for Zodiac P.I. and Instant Teen fans.

Review copy provided by Del Rey.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

Title: Ballads of Suburbia
Author: Stephanie Kuehnert
Description: There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of suburbia: louder, faster, angrier . . . till it drowns out the silence.

Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park. . . .

Amidst the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.



Is it bad if I tell you I have not yet read I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone? When I first started blogging, I saw Stephanie's debut novel quite a bit on the web but never got around to it. So now I think I'm the only one that have not yet read it. The summaries of both her books sound quite intriguing. The novels deal with teen girls living through personal hardships and trying to find their identity. Ballads of Suburbia will be released on July 21, 2009 by MTV Books.

Stephanie is hosting a contest to bring more attention to her new novel and I am going to attempt to convince you lovely readers to pass on the message. For example, why not post some banners or the trailer you see now of Ballads of Suburbia on your blog? You can click here to join her street team so you can get in with the exclusive stuff! Maybe you're more of a social networking person? Then friend her through Myspace, become her fan on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter!

But wait! What do you get if you do all (or any) this? Well, I'll let Stephanie list off the prizes:

The Grand Prize winner aka the person who has the most contest entries (though they must be a street team member, so go here to join) will win a signed Advanced Review Copy of Ballads of Suburbia, a signed copy of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, a copy of the Ballads of Suburbia Soundtrack, and a gift certificate to Amazon.com.

Two Runners-Up will received signed ARCs of Ballads and the Ballads soundtrack

Lastly, I will draw 5 names at random and those people will receive BALLADS swag packs including bookmarks and signed cover flats. I will give you enough swag so you have some to keep and some to pass out around town.

Also, please note I also run a monthly contest for Street Team Members only, so sign up for the street team to become eligible.

Wow! Now don't you just wanna go out and start spreading news about Ballads of Suburbia? Click here to get the full details! Contest ends May 21, 2009 so hurry up and join! And tell me here if you did any the above!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Hollywood Car Wash by Lori Culwell

Title: Hollywood Car Wash
Author: Lori Culwell
Age Group: Adult
# of Pages: 307
My Rating: 5/5

Amy Spencer is your ordinary drama student in college with hopes of becoming an actress in indie films. She is woken up one morning by her roommate and also friend to find out that she is signed up for some audition. Reluctantly, fresh-out-of-bed Amy finally agrees to go and get it over with after being pestered. She has no idea what the audition is for but does what she is told as she acted out one of the scenes with great skill.

Shortly after, Amy is given quite the surprising news. The audition she did was apparently for a drama that will soon be aired on TV. And she scored the leading role! Before she could say "Hollywood", she is already in L.A. and starting to live the dream life of many young girls. From being a poor college student, Amy (or now referred as Star) is receiving free apparel from places like Gucci and Fendi and a paycheck that can support her throughout her whole lifetime. But is all of this fame and money worth it as her identity is being stripped away?

When I got my review copy of Hollywood Car Wash, I was actually a little disappointed. I was crossing my fingers in hopes of getting Sebastian Darke: Prince of Pirates by Philip Caveney instead. I have never heard of Lori Culwell so I was like, "Hm, what should I expect?". So far, I have not seen this novel anywhere in the book blogverse so without the reviews to base my opinion on, I came in reading it with nothing to limit me except for my own experiences. My first impression was I'm not going to like it so much. Maybe because I kept thinking the protagonist will try to reject the idea of Hollywood (which Amy did in the beginning) and try to quit because everything is so fake (which she think it is because it is). You know, the whole be-yourself-no-matter-what concept. I always found those morals to be a little cheesy by all means. Except, Lori Culwell made me change my mind by a long shot.

Before I opened up the book, I asked myself, "What kind of title is Hollywood Car Wash? It seems so random." But after the glamorous adventure I was sucked into, I realized that it could not be more of a perfect title. I've never given a second thought for the titles when it came to books but this one made me questioned and realized. The fact that I was thinking and still thinking of the title itself makes quite an impression.

Amy Spencer is real. She may not like the idea of changing herself for society but she quickly embraces the glory of being pampered like a princess. Cause really, who would not love the fact of getting such an exceedingly large amount of money at such a young age? Not to mention if you say you want something, it would pop up the next day. Amy may be transforming who she is on the outside, but on the inside she is still the same with her personal humour and loneliness. I found her actions to be intelligent and she knew what she was doing. Getting into the entertainment world is hard from the very beginning and it will not get any easier, but the things to learn are beyond your imagination. I felt connected to Amy and supported her throughout every decision she made even if many would scorn upon it. She is amazing and unfortunately had to go through the things she went through. But if she did not, she would not have been a stronger character than she already was toward the end. I do not know if reality is like how Hollywood Car Wash portrays it but Culwell made it remarkably believable.

I am praising Hollywood Car Wash now and I know I will continue doing so. I am disappointed to know that not many other YA book bloggers know of this novel (well, the ones I watch anyway) but is thrilled to be the first (in my mind) to have written this review. If you follow the entertainment world closely, I think you will be most pleased with this novel because of the many recent references of movie stars and shows. From the first page you would be definitely be dragged into Amy's crazy world and loving every single moment of it! The more you read it, the more addicting it gets! I am definitely eager for Lori Culwell's future novels!

Review copy provided by Book Divas.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

In My Mailbox - XXIII

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed



Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Need by Carrie Jones
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Hush by Donna Jo Napoli
The Legend of Hong Kil Dong by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Kamichama Karin vol. 7 by Koge-Donbo
Ultra Maniac vol. 3-5 by Wataru Yoshizumi
B.B. Explosion vol. 1 by Yasue Imai
The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross vol. 5 by Arina Tanemura
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX vol. 1-2 by Naoyuki Kageyama

The Bought

None

The Received


Yakitate!! Japan vol. 1-4 by Takashi Hashiguchi

Thank you Az from Bookmooch for Yakitate!! Japan! I love the anime but to finally get the manga series is great!

I think I officially have gone insane with the borrowing. I have a chunk load of mangas I borrowed from two weeks ago which I have not gone through. Since I got no novels lately, I picked out three more asides Need which I already requested. Dear lord, I pray to finish this all before returning them...

CONTEST ALERT: Author Maggie Stiefvater is holding a contest! Click here for my post about it a couple of days ago or scroll downwards. If would be great if you head over to Maggie's blog and tell her you found out about her contest through me. Also remember to make a post like I did so you could be entered for great prizes!

And Happy Mother's Day!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Official Casebook: Vol. 1: The Phoenix Wright Files

Title: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Official Casebook: Vol. 1: The Phoenix Wright Files
Mangaka: Tamako Yamauchi, Kei Nisemura, Seventh Gear, Wataru Yamasaki, Tsubaki Mikage, Kaname Uchimura, Naruzô, Yûya Kurogami, Natsu Otono, Kaoru Osada, DAIGO, Masao Aona, Yorozu, Tomo, Kikuchiyo Anko, Tsukapon, Rin Hashiba, Shinosuke, Aira Kanô, & Kiyono Shimanda
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 293
My Rating: 4/5

Based on the hit game, this manga has twenty fun comics about Phoenix Wright and those he works with. From the silliest cases to why he decided to become a defence attorney, it's a manga that anyone could enjoy.

This is going to be a short review because Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney consists of many short stories so plot and character could not be focused and elaborated on.

I have seen Phoenix Wright quite a bit on the web but since I'm not a gamer, I've never played it. Luckily, I did not need to know about the game in order to read the manga. I found it entertaining with a few comics better than the others but a delightful read nonetheless. Each character personality contributes to the humour along with the mangaka's own taste and art style. Anytime I wanted, I could finish one comic and leave the rest for the next day. You could finish it quickly without actually having to finish the whole manga itself. If you played Phoenix Wright and haven't read the manga version of it yet, you totally should.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Win a signed ARC of Shiver, copies of Lament, and much more!

Alright, I tend to avoid putting up individual posts about contests but this time I can't help it!

Personally, I never gotten a chance to read Lament by Maggie Stiefvater yet but maybe I will if you guys help me out! The author's newest book, Shiver, is coming out soon and she's hosting a fabulous contest about it!

Shiver's summary:
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Liking it? Cause you can pre-order it here! Rather get a freebie instead? Fine, listen to Maggie:

Here's the deal. It's running from May 8-15th. The idea is to convince as many of your LJ or blogger or wordpress friends to post about SHIVER (you don't have to pay them, although it might help). Winner is whoever manages to get as many of their friends to post and comment back here by 8 p.m. EST on the 15th.

And the reward? Okay. Here it is. First of all, you have to get at least 5 friends to blog about it to be eligible. Winner gets:

- a signed ARC of SHIVER
- 4 signed copies of LAMENT
- and for each of the friends that you got to comment, a critique of the first 5 pages of any of their manuscripts

And if any single person manages to get over 50 friends to comment, I'll make it 3 ARCs of SHIVER and 8 copies of LAMENT.

You like what you hear? So head over to Maggie's blog and post there that I brought your attention to this fab contest! And tell me here that you did so that way I can feel extra special.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Title: Generation Dead
Author: Daniel Waters
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 392
My Rating: 2/5

The dead are coming back. Zombies. Except they are referred to as the "living impaired" or the "differently biotic". And apparently, this supernatural phenomenon is occurring only in the States and those who crawl out of their graves were once teenagers. They are not terrorizing the streets or eating people's limbs. Instead, they are trying to fit back into the society they once knew of. But can they be truly be accepted, as hard as they try to be humane?

All-goth Phoebe is in a school where there is a large number of the living impaired. She and her best friend Margi are trying to cope with the fact that their other best friend, Colette, died from a drowning accident. Now, she is one of the many undead kids.

Tommy is a handsome differently biotic person who Phoebe takes interest in. She finds him fascinating and wants to know about him. When he joins the school football team, he peaks her curiosity much more.

Adam has been Phoebe's friend since they were young. He recently discovers his feelings for her but only to find out that she is more keen on someone non-breathing instead. When Tommy joins his football team, troubles start to brew up. Many of the players, including the coach, are against having a living impaired person on their team. Should Adam ignore what some of his teammates are planning to do or stick up for some dead guy his crush likes?

Revolted by zombies, Pete is sick to know that he will have to play football with one. His love Julie never came back after she died, why should everyone else? He is determined to crush Tommy and all of his rotten friends. Even if it hurts those that are still alive, like Phoebe and the traitor, Adam.

With the dead among the living, there is no surprise that things can get a little nasty...

So, I have had this book for about a month. And some people might be like, "So what?". If you are a follower of my blog, you would know exactly what is wrong with this picture. I am a huge zombie fan and every other week, I would mention something zombie-related. Now, if I had a zombie book for a month and just finished it now, it tells you quite a bit.

Generation Dead has to be the slowest and most non-thrilling zombie story out there. Believe me, every three pages I kept checking to see how much I had left to read. One of the worst things a book could ever do is make the reader see when they would finish it. Not because they are afraid it is going to end, but when is it going to finally end!

The first thing I had an issue with was Phoebe and her whole goth get-up. I don't mind goths in general but it seems so uncalled for in this novel. Then again, it is the author's job to prove their audience wrong and make them love every concept they put down. Except this never happened. I couldn't bring myself to root for Phoebe in any situation because she was such a dull person who apparently likes writing emo poetry and wears only black. Tommy was just as boring but had some pretty killer writing skills and a pretty face. Pete simply had issues and needed a zombie to eat him up already. The only character I sorta liked was Adam because for a jock, he was a pretty good guy. Sadly, I found no character growing up toward the end. Isn't character development key to a good story?

For me, the most exciting parts were in the last two chapters and it didn't go beyond five or so pages. Throughout the whole novel, I wanted to stop reading altogether and torch it. I was bored to death and could not believe how many books I put off for my attempt to finish it (reason for the many manga reviews lately). But as a reviewer, I made it my policy to finish every book I ever started. For all I know, it could get better halfway. I don't want to compare, but it felt like I was reading Twilight all over again. Forbidden love between a living and non-living person with no real plot throughout 500 pages (but this one luckily had 100 pages less). It was slightly better than Twilight because the use of Mary-Sues was actually minimal but I could not bring myself to boost up the rating.

I think another frustrating point for me was when a dead Japanese guy was introduced. He was portrayed as someone who had a thing against the world. Can I scream now? This is more of a personal opinion but I am sick of having all the existing Asian male characters in my zombie stories dead and/or hate their life. The last zombie book killed off my favourite Korean guy too (see Soulless by Christopher Golden) but at least I loved it so much it that it got a perfect score. Adding this small point in the story made me feel insulted. There are already a rare number of Asian characters in the American YA fiction world so at least keep them until the very end. I think all zombie authors have a thing against Asian people, you know?

Generation Dead is not recommended for zombie fans unless you don't mind uneventful plots and non-Apocalypse scenes (then why would it even be a zombie book anymore?). But maybe Twilight fans would like this novel more than me.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Samurai 7 by Mizutaka Suhou & Akira Kurosawa

Title: Samurai 7
Mangaka: Story by Akira Kurosawa and adapted by Mizutaka Suhou
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 2
My Rating: 3/5

The humans and robots are at war. The world is being annihilated by weapons of mass destruction. The only people that could stop them are men with specialized swords called Taisenshatou. These human protectors are called samurai.

Katsushiro Okamoto is the son to a wealthy merchant. He always wanted to be a samurai and admired them since he was young. He runs away to a distant town, claiming to be one himself. When the pretty Kirara requests for his help, he agrees immediately. She and an older man are looking for samurai. Their village is in trouble because the Nobuseri are going to attack them. The group Nobuseri used to be warriors but turned into infamous bandits that now pick on the weak.

Katsushiro and the others are able to find a kind-hearted samurai by the name of Kambei Shimada. Together they were able to gather enough samurai to go to Kanna Village and aid the villagers. But the question is, will they be able to defeat the Nobuseri?

In Samurai 7, there are many elements you would find in historical Japan. For example how everyone is dressed in the olden-styled clothes and villages still exist outside of the cities. On the other hand, you would see more futuristic elements, like stated before, robots, and flying ships.

I liked the variation of characters the mangaka presents. There are a lot of different personalities that should contribute quite a bit in the future volumes. The first volume is yet to reveal the main plot because I'm sure the Nobuseri event is just the start off before it gets to the real problem. So far it only gives a brief graze of the bigger picture.

I think this manga series would definitely be enjoyed by an older male audience. All of the male characters are around 30 years or older (assuming) except for Katsushiro. I didn't find it appealing at all but then again, I was not exactly part of the targeted audience. It has quite a bit of action and I don't mind reading it, but it isn't really something I'm into. I didn't find it exciting and only along the lines of "meh". Recommended for shonen (manga geared towards boys) fans.

Review copy provided by Del Rey.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Title: Silver Phoenix
Author: Cindy Pon
Description: No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.



When I saw Silver Phoenix awhile back, I instantly knew I wanted to read it. There are a rare number of YA books out there based on the Asian culture. To see this makes me very happy! I still have yet to get a copy but is totally looking forward to it!


And guess what? You can win a chance to receive a signed copy from Cindy and one of her gorgeous Chinese brush paintings (valued from $200-$400)! Another person can win a $100 gift card to any bookstore of their choice and a signed copy! Not to mention anyone around the world can join! Click
here for more details! Ends June 8, 2009!

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