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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooktacular Suggestions for a Seasonal Scare

Happy Halloween! Due to my lack of reviews //coughcough//, I decided to put together a list of Halloween-y recommendations for you guys (on Halloween)! Originally it was supposed to be 5 recommendations in each of the three categories: YA novel, manga, and film. But it was way too much (trust me, try it yourself and you'll see) so I decided to just do one of each then. So check out below my random picks on what you can read or watch tonight!

YA Novel

Title: Zombie Blondes
Author:
Brian James
Description:
From the moment Hannah Sanders arrived in town, she felt there was something wrong. A lot of houses were for sale, and the town seemed infected by an unearthly quiet. And then, on Hannah’s first day of classes, she ran into a group of cheerleaders—the most popular girls in school.

The odd thing was that they were nearly identical in appearance: blonde, beautiful, and deathly pale.


But Hannah wants desperately to fit in—regardless of what her friend Lukas is telling her: If she doesn’t watch her back, she’s going to be blonde and popular and dead—just like all the other zombies in this town. . . .


Diana's Comment:
This is the first and last YA novel that I have read in the bookstore because I was so desperate to read it! (Only had the hardcover at the time and no money). I read this before actually creating this blog so I do not have a review for it but I give it a 5/5! Totally spooky and totally unique, zombie fans should definitely check this out! Brian James was fantastic at making a story through a girl's perspective because he nailed all of the emotions and thoughts amazingly!

Manga

Title: Dragon Head
Mangaka:
Minetaro Mochizuki
Description:
A typical school field trip going back to Tokyo from Kyoto via the bullet train Shinkansen is suddenly interrupted by a blinding light and a powerful explosion. Hours later, Aoki Teru, wakes up in total darkness only to find that everyone except him are dead. Now, trapped in a tunnel with both ends burried under a pile rocks, he must find the remaining survivors and get out of there. But what awaits him outside may not be what he wants to see.

Diana's Comment: Read my very old review of it here. This stuff will keep you hooked and freaked out 100%!



Movie

Title: The Ring
Release Year: 2002
Description:
A mysterious video tape is killing off anyone who watches it. Whenever the victim watches it, the phone rings, telling them they have only one week to live. A young reporter named Rachel is investigating these events, but after she and her small son watch the tape, it becomes a race against time to find out why the tape is killing everyone and how it could be stopped.

Diana's Comment:
This movie scared me, even until today. After I watched it when I was around 10 years old, I couldn't sleep for that entire night. I was honestly so scared out of my mind that every shadow made me think it was Sadako coming out to get me. If you guys really need a scare for Halloween, The Ring is your movie.


So do you guys have any Halloween recommendations you would like to share with others? Or what is your take for any of my recommendation above? Feel free to comment below!

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Never Bite a Boy on the First Date by Tamara Summers

Title: Never Bite a Boy on the First Date
Author: Tamara Summers
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 280
My Rating: 2.5/5

Kira, once known as Phoebe Tanaka, is a teenage vampire who has a big problem. (Which young bloodsucker doesn't?). Sure she bit a guy she temporarily lusted for but it didn't mean she took another snack out of someone from her new school! But her vampire family doesn't believe her. She must clear up her name within a week or else she'll have to face the consequences!

With three cute suspects she is eyeing on, how can Kira keep focus on her little "detective" work? Especially when she might be crushing on one of them!

Well, I don't hate the vampire part of this novel but it is practically everything else the bothers me.

In first-person narration, Kira fell flat through her voice with her feelings only grazed upon. She was impossible to connect with because whenever she narrated, it would be like she was talking to you in real life, simply describing what was going on but without giving you that personal connection. If there is no connection with the protagonist, the reader will likely end up not caring what would happen to the character in the end.

Also, you don't learn much about her past life and how she dealt with her blood family after she became a vampire. She constantly stated that she is half Japanese but what is the other half? European? African American? There were a lot of blanks in terms of her history and I think it is important to at least let the reader know more about Kira as a whole.

I didn't understand why there would be anything going with Kira and her suspects. There was absolutely no chemistry between Kira or any of the guys because their time spent together wasn't even worth enough to develop anything! The romance was practically non-existent!

When the ending came around, it was not as exciting as it was supposed to be. From start to finish, I was like, "Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay, done." I couldn't find this novel to be appealing as I hoped.

I guess you could call this novel a mystery but I just don't see the mystery factor in it. I found the plot was an excuse to have Kira hang out with three different cuties because that was pretty much what was happening throughout. I don't hate the book; I guess I just don't like how everything was put together. The premise is not mind-blowing but a potentially good story could have been created upon it. There were just too many flaws, from characters to plot to almost anything you could think of. As a reader, you wouldn't mind reading the novel but you would definitely be nit-picking it as you go through.

Never Bite a Boy on the First Date is your lighter vamp novel and is easy to breeze through, but something I would never recommend purchasing. You can take a peek of the novel here.

Review copy provided by
HarperCollins.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

X-Men Misfits by Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, & ANZU

Title: X-Men Misfits
Mangaka: Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman (Story) & ANZU (Art)
Age Group: Teens
Series is: Ongoing with 2 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1
My Rating: 3/5

Kitty isn't like any other kid. Really. How? She can walk through walls!

Thinking that she will never fit in, a man arrives at her home to let her know that he is giving her a scholarship to attend a private school for the gifted. A chance for a change, she agrees.

Discovering that she is the only female at this odd and new school, Kitty is surrounded by a harem of beautiful males! She immediately gets fawned over with attention from left to right. Not to mention, she gets a cute boyfriend who can control fire! Oh life at her new school is great.

But, Kitty realizes that her new cool friends are not as cool as they seem. With their reactions towards humans, can Kitty truly call them friends? And her eyes keep venturing towards the cold-hearted Iceman, Bobby, even though she is with John...

"Different" girl + Boys with magical powers = another typical harem manga. So yes, plenty of eye candy of guys in this new series but I am not fond of the artwork. I have looked up the artist, ANZU, and her style is pretty nice but when it came to this manga, it just didn't work. It felt somewhat rushed, compared to her usual art pieces. The lines were thin and somewhat awkward upon the characters, unlike to her personal comic, Thirst of Angels, which was neat and nicely inked.

The story was a little "Ehhh". I thought it could have been better in terms of an X-Men twist (this is when Professor Xavier was not yet in a wheelchair). I found the relationship between Kitty and her boyfriend to be dumb. They came together too quickly and it appeared to be more of lust than love. Which was something I am sure that was meant to be portrayed but I still didn't like it. The plot didn't have anything to look forward to except for some pretty characters. The only character I liked was a mutant named Kurt, who was like part lizard or something, but was unfortunately had limited appearances.

X-Men Misfits so far only has nice looking male characters with powers and a girl stuck in the middle of it all with no concrete story. It is hard to pinpoint what will build up in the continuing volumes. It is a manga I do not recommend going out to buy but not bad to read if you have some time to spare.

Review copy provided by
Del Rey.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Watching on Wednesday: Shaun of the Dead

Title: Shaun of the Dead
Type: Movie
Age Group: Teens +
Release Year: 2004
My Rating: 4.5/5

Shaun (Simon Pegg) lives a life that is less than super in any way. I mean, stuck with a roommate that does nothing but play videogames all day and being an appliance salesman doesn't exactly live up to much. He has to also deal with his ex-girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), and his stepfather, Philip (Bill Nighy), whom he both has a shaky relationship with.

When things can't get any duller or more problematic than it already is, Shaun discovers (a little late) that everyone has turned into zombies because of a virus! Devising a plan to save his mom and ex from the horror, Shaun sets out with roommate, Ed (Nick Frost), to seize a very zombified day with rofl moments and head-bashing action!

Ah, zombie comedies. There are a few and rare that exist in the entertainment world (or maybe it's just me?). Shaun of the Dead definitely delivers the laughter and zombie goodness in one go. In the beginning, it might take a few minutes to adjust to the British talk for those who are not used to it. Once adapted to, you will be enjoying the different antics they throw out at the audience.

It would have been better if they expanded their location of filming. The movie set is predominately at Simon's flat and his favourite pub, The Winchester. A change of scenery, like out in another city, would have been a nice instead of staying within one town.

I think Simon and Nick nailed their roles pretty well; all of the other actors were alright since their characters weren't as important. I did think however a couple of characters, like Liz's friends, seemed a bit unnecessary to the cast. They didn't contribute much to the overall story as they were just there in the background.

The makeup made pretty convincing zombies, although you don't see much gore and blood-shed. It is nothing to the likes of Resident Evil, considering it is comedy. But still, it worked!

So folks, if you are in need of a Halloween-y movie or just wants something to watch, check out Shaun of the Dead! (Even if you are not into zombies!)


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Title: Impossible
Author: Nancy Werlin
Description: Lucy Scarborough is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child’s birth. How can Lucy succeed when all of her ancestors have tried and failed? But Lucy is the first girl who won’t be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents beside her. And she has Zach, whose strength amazes her more each day. Do they have enough love and resolve to overcome an age-old evil?



The concept is interesting but for some reason, I don't really think it is my type of book. For those who have read it, your opinions?

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

In My Mailbox - XLIV

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


The Borrowed

None

The Bought

Vampire Doll vol. 6 by Erika Kari

The Received

The Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Masamune
Akira vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo
The Official xxxHolic Guide

(Sorry for bad photo, I was sick earlier and was too lazy to take a better picture...)

All mangas this week!

When I hauled out the package from my mailbox that contained The Ghost in the Shell and Akira, I honestly thought that there were six mangas within. I got so excited and when I opened it, I was shocked. They were two huge mangas! I think I could have fainted because with school taking away ALL of my time from reviewing, I am expected to get through these two chunky mangas. But, I shall try!

Anyway, I have received an email from Lesley that her site Tactical Urban Gears is having a contest to win an Apple iTouch, iPhone, and 10 consolation prizes! You don't need to purchase anything! It ends on January 25th! Click the banner below to enter! (And remember to list me as your referral!)



Also, fellow blogger Liyana is hosting a giveaway for a $10 voucher to TUG! Click here! Her contest ends on Novermber 13th!


These are a couple of the shirts offered in the store! Ain't it cool?

Reminder to those who joined Cindy's great giveaways, she posted up the list of winners already! Click here to see if you have won! Congrats if you did!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Everything Sucks by Hannah Friedman

Title: Everything Sucks
Author: Hannah Friedman
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: 256
My Rating: 4/5

In this memoir, Hannah Friedman will give you her life story. Well, up to the end of high school that is.

Once dubbed as the "Monkey Girl" in her elementary school, Hannah spent most of her young life in a tour bus with her eccentric family and her father's band members. But once she entered the world of high school, everything changed. She was part of the "in group" at a prestigious boarding school, had an awesome boyfriend and was no longer the weird kid. Could life get any better?

But with her best of times, Hannah also had her worst of times. She tried to cope with a huge amount of stress due to university applications, drugs, and figuring out who she really was in the world.

Through this fun memoir, you will get to hear the voice of this sarcastic and in-your-face Yale graduate as she describes to you her first boyfriend to her first sex experience.

I am not a memoir person and doubt I'll go buy memoirs anytime soon, but Everything Sucks is a fun read as I explored life in Hannah's perspective. People from big name places (in this case Yale) always pique my curiosity because I always wonder how they end up in such an impressive position and what they did to get there. Everything Sucks gives the perfect glimpse where sometimes the end result will always be a surprise, no matter what you do.

The novel focuses a lot on Hannah wanting to be accepted, which is something you see often in YA novels and real life. There will be a part in the novel where the reader will be able to relate to Hannah, sooner or later. She is a little wild in my opinion but surely, is like any other human.

There are times where you wonder, "Why does (insert person) do this?" Hannah gives you a clear picture of her past experiences which led to her decisions later on in life. What is most unique about Everything Sucks is that the content is all true, not a made-up story. You will follow the events in sequential order, in which each chapter starts with "____ Sucks" and each one has a main topic which it evolves around.

I know that if I were to meet the author, I would be a little scared because she is so out there. With her attitude and situations in Everything Sucks, you can't help but enjoy her storytelling though. I recommend it to those who wants a break from fiction and get some fun from reality instead.

Review copy provided by
Hannah Friedman.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tramps Like Us by Yayoi Ogawa

Title: Tramps Like Us
Mangaka: Yayoi Ogawa
Age Group: Older Teens +
Series is: Completed with 14 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1-14
My Rating: 5/5

Sumire Igawa has recently broken up with her long-term boyfriend who decided to leave her for another woman. This causes the young business lady to become estrange and refuses to date anyone with a lower status than herself.

In the middle of the night, she comes across a large cardboard box in front of her condo. In frustration, she kicks it. Only to find that there is a body inside!

Sumire takes in a homeless twenty years old man and allows him to stay at her place if he becomes her pet. He immediately agrees. Sumire names him "Momo", after her beloved dog as a child. Although he's only a pet, why does she have such strange feelings towards him...?

I remembered when I first picked up this series back when I was in grade seven or so. I read the first volume and got really bored, never continuing on. Now five years later, I saw the same series completed in English. Remembering back at the plot line, I decided to try Tramps Like Us/Kimi wa Petto (Japanese title that I much prefer and will use from now on that translates to "You Are My Pet") again because I like that sort of plot now. I was instantly hooked.

A series that is finally not based on high schoolers, Kimi wa Petto takes a little encounter between two different people and make a fun, loving, and heart-aching story.

I absolutely adore the relationship between Sumire and Momo. It is way too cute/sexy/honest beyond words! Sumire is a woman in her late twenties who has always been trying to perfect herself for ages. She is afraid to disappoint others so she enclose herself in a shell where people view her as a cold-hearted person because she is so firm and blunt. Momo on the other hand is completely silly and acts just like a dog. At the same time, he does have feelings but tries not to show them in front of his master. I find him so appealing. As their lives intertwine further everyday, they learn things they couldn't have on their own.

The plot evolves around the two most of the time as they run into plenty of problems, making them doubt themselves in various aspects. Near towards the end of the series, there are a few chapters that are dedicated to the side characters but not so much that it veers away from the original plot between the protagonists altogether. A couple of chapters gives a peek into the future, which I found to be most appropriate and made me want to read more.

In the beginning when I first saw Kimi wa Petto at a younger age, I was not fond of the manga's art style. But now that I have grown with a better mindset on mangas, I think the art is perfect for the story. Simple but lovely, Yayoi Ogawa does not exaggerate with lines or shading. Her art may not be the best out there but it harmonizes with the plot to complete it whole. The more I continued to read, the more I adored the drawings, especially when I got to see my favourite couple together.

In conclusion, I think Kimi wa Petto is an amazing series of normal people for normal people. I definitely recommend it but someone at a young age should not venture into it. Not only are there is inappropriate content, but it would be harder to digest because of the setup is not meant for kids.

There's also a Japanese drama (which I never finished it because I have little patience with dramas) but I recommend for those who have read Kimi wa Petto to watch the live version also! From what I remember, it's a pretty good show where you can kick back and just relax.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Secret Society by Tom Dolby

Title: Secret Society
Author: Tom Dolby
Description: Three Upper East Side teens find that they have been tapped for The Secret Society, an elite order with roots going back to ancient Egypt. Once they accept Secret Society membership, they stand to benefit beyond their wildest dreams, with one caveat, once they get in, they can never get out.



I am considering reviewing this novel but it may be awhile till I get to it. For those who have read it, what are your opinions on it?

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

In My Mailbox - XLIII

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


The Borrowed

None

The Bought

None

The Received

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
Catwalk: Strike a Pose by Deborah Gregory
Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen
Flawless by Sara Shepard
The A-List: Hollywood Royalty by Zoey Dean
Mini swag

Thank you Book Muncher for The A-List: Hollywood Royalty and bookmarks!

Ah, finally a nice batch of YA novels! I have just finished As You Wish today so look forward to its review soon! I definitely can't wait to get my hands of Flawless since I've reviewed Pretty Little Liars awhile back. But I think I might have to hold it off because there are a few novels that must be reviewed first. So what did you guys get this week?

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Title: Lockdown
Author: Alexander Gordon Smith
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 288
My Rating: 5/5

Alex Sawyer and his friend have a tendency to steal from other people. Hey, it's not that bad, they never get caught. When the two are tipped off that the owners of a home will be away, they get down to business. But they have no idea what awaits them...

Accused of murdering his friend, Alex is sent to the Furnace, an inescapable prison for young offenders which is known to be absolutely treacherous. Alex doesn't know why he is framed into such a position but he does know one thing, he has to get the hell out of there. And fast, before it is too late.

Madly intense, Lockdown will keep your eyes wide open and mesmerized into a world that is full of darkness and terror.

Really, I don't even know where to begin for this review! Alex is not a bad person, he just does bad things. Somehow, his actions catch up to him, sending him straight down to hell --- literally. He regrets the first time he stole money from a kid he bullied at school. If it wasn't for that very small event in his life, he wouldn't have ended up in Furnace because of repetitive stealing. He encounters enemies that are absolutely horrifying as they torture him in his wake and sleep. The only fact that is keeping him alive is the possibility of escaping this endless nightmare. You will be attached to the book, supporting and praying for Alex from the beginning to the end because you know, deep down he does not deserve his punishment.

My favourite character would have to be Donovan, Alex's cellmate. He puts on a tough facade but is really a great guy. Although he is in the Furnace for a crime he did do, you will still root for him as much as you do for Alex. Together they have a stronger bond of friendship than you can imagine.

In this riveting tale, you will be pulled into a terrifying journey that you'll never know where you'll end up at. When you think everything calms down, something else jumps out at you! Left with a cliff-hanger that literally made me feel like I was hanging from a cliff, I am definitely holding on for the sequel! Lockdown is a must read everyone should pick up!

Review ARC copy provided by Henry Holt and Company.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Q4U: What keeps you coming back to a blog?

As a reader, there are some blogs you tend to go to check out more often than others. So...

What keeps you coming back to a blog?

Is it the content? Giveaways hosted? The blogger is your friend?

I have to admit, I will try to return the favour by checking out bloggers who stop by mine often (if they do have a blog). If they are taking their time to read my content, I feel that it is appropriate to do so too with their blog. Of course I don't spam them or anything; I just comment when there is something I feel worth commenting about or else I just do a quick drop-by.

Neat blogs with simple reviews of subjects I am into (YA novels and mangas) is definitely a plus. I am not the type of person to check out a review blog that likes to be lengthy and wordy (not that I have a problem with it! Just not my cup of tea). If the blogger can say what they have in mind with whatever they are reviewing without throwing fancy stuff in, there is a higher chance for me to come back.

With bloggers I am friends with, I do check their stuff as often as well. Why? Well, friends are friends right? And of course I support them in what they do!

So what about you guys?

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crown by Shinji Wada & You Higuri

Title: Crown
Mangaka:
Shinji Wada (Story) & You Higuri (Art)
Age Group:
Older Teens
Series is:
Ongoing with 6 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing:
1
My Rating:
3.5/5

Being an orphan is tough, but Mahiro doesn't let that get to her. She is working hard to make money and tries her best to ignore the cruel family that she is stuck with from her mother's side. But her life abruptly takes a 180 degree turn when her long-lost (and handsome!) older brother, Ren, comes back for her! Apparently, they are both royalty and now the evil queen who married their father is trying to get them killed!


Under the protection of her brother and his best friend, Jake, Mahiro is now living life under the covers as she must be careful with whatever she is doing. But, will the queen get her in the end?


This is honestly the first manga I bought based on a review from
MangaBlog. In this series, you get the fine-line and dashing art of the popular mangaka, You Higuri, with a one-of-the-kind-story by Shinji Wada.

Mahiro is a girl who thinks the best of everyone, which was something that bothered me. If several people were hired to chase you down and kill you, you should be more careful. But Mahiro didn't seem to have that mentality, which the reader could be easily irked by. Ren is a cool brother, after all these years he came back to protect his little sister. For some reason though, it seems their relationship may go beyond sibling love. So far, nothing in the plot within volume one has indicated so but it does give off that vibe. Now I wonder if they may not be blood-related at all...


Higuri is notorious for her boys' love series and although I have never read any of them, I know because she's famous for it. So when it came to Ren's relationship with his foreign friend, Jake, it was a peculiar one. They are not on the romantic side of things but whenever Jake got mad, Ren would always seem like he was ready to pronounce his undying love for him. I was not too fond about this because Crown is definitely not a shonen-ai/yaoi manga, which makes all this extra stuff between Ren and Jake unnecessary.

I think the storyline is pretty awesome but for some reason, pairing up with Higuri did not work out so well. It is not terrible at all because her art style is lovely, but she doesn't know how to make the manga stand out because she is very used to her own area of expertise (boys' love). Although there is a lot of killing and blood, I find Crown to be on the lighter side of things. If a mangaka who is based on intense action (but comedy also) came into the project, Crown would have been much better.

Overall, Crown is a good series but something I would not run out to buy all the volumes of. But if you have it in your library, go borrow it.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

Title: A Most Improper Magick
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Description: Kat's mother was a scandalous witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and her stepmama is determined to sell Kat's oldest sister into a positively Gothic marriage to pay it off - so what can Kat do but take matters directly into her own hands? If only her older sisters hadn’t thwarted her plan to run away to London dressed as a boy and earn a fortune!

When Kat makes a midnight foray into her mother’s cabinet of secrets, though, she finds out something she never expected. Her mother wasn’t just a witch, she was a Guardian, a member of a secret Order with staggering magical powers - and Kat is her heir.

Of course, there’s no chance of Kat choosing to join the Order that forbade her parents’ marriage...but Mama’s magical mirror doesn’t seem to understand that. It keeps following her wherever she goes, even when the family travels to Grantham Abbey to meet the sinister Sir Neville, her oldest sister’s chosen fiancĂ©.

And what with Sir Neville showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s untapped powers, her mother’s old tutor insisting that she take up her mother’s position as a Guardian, and her sister Angeline refusing to listen to her about anything, as usual...well, it’s a good thing Kat kept her boy’s clothing, because she may well have to use it--especially if the rumors of a highwayman are true.





My entry for the A Most Improper Magick book tralier competition. Read the rules and enter at http://www.stephanieburgis.com/competition.php.

Sounds like a pretty cool tween novel, does it not? Back in the days when I was a tween, I never really came across titles like these.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

In My Mailbox - XLII

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


The Borrowed

None

The Bought

None

The Received

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Only one novel this week and it's a memoir.

School has been such a drag and it's so hard to type out reviews more and more each day. Please bear with me!

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sebastian Darke: Prince of Pirates by Philip Caveney

Title: Sebastian Darke: Prince of Pirates
Author: Philip Caveney
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 420
My Rating: 5/5

After a heroic act of taking down the evil King Septimus, Sebastian Darke is back! With his long-time buddy, Max the Buffalope, and the short (but mighty) warrior Cornelius. They are off to another grand adventure! And this time, out into the sea!

After being saved from a monster by a man named Adam, the trio is told that his sister, Leonora, knew that they were in danger. But these siblings have an agenda of their own. They are out to get the treasure that Sebastian and his friends are trying to find!

Attempting to escape from their pursuers, Sebastian and the gang hires a ship to find their way to the mysterious island that holds Captain Callinestra's world fortune. With fierce pirates, a long-lost loot, and mythical creatures, you should prepare for another fantastic quest with Sebastian Darke!

After reading the Prince of Fools, I knew I had to one day get my hands on the sequel. And I was not disappointed as Caveney delivered a non-stop and fun action story with enthusiastic characters, new and old!

The plot kept me hooked and I continued flipping the pages, dying to know what happened to the characters next. When you think things are going to be okay, another problem jumps out! You will be sitting there, biting your nails as you pray for the characters' safety.

I pitied Sebastian throughout this novel because he fell under an enchantment where he would only think of the evil Leonora. On his journey, he made acquaintances with the pretty female captain pirate, Jenna. I think she is pretty cool and I do hope she makes an appearance again in the next novel but for some reason I doubt so. Sebastian slowly but surely grew up some more after encountering plenty of obstacles in this expedition since the Prince of Fools. He is an odd character to have a story evolve around because of his personality and situation but I love how different he is compared to most male leads.

What I adore the most about the novel is how everything is like a classic hero story for kids. You have the protagonist with his steed and best man, going through deadly challenges to get to the treasure that was lost for hundreds of years. Except it is a read for teens instead of the youngsters.

I definitely recommend the Sebastian Darke series if you have not read it yet! It gives you a break from the usual supernatural/fantasy stuff that you generally find in YA fiction. I'm anxious for the third installment!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea by Nakaba Higurashi and Seiichi Morimura

Title: Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea
Mangaka: Nakaba Higurashi & Seiichi Morimura
Age Group: Older Teens
Series is: Completed with 1 volume
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1
My Rating: 3/5

History is a fascinating subject. Society is based off of what had happened in the past and what humans have learned over the courses of many years. There are also those who were great leaders that made a huge impact during a certain era of time.

Temujin grew up in a tribe within Mongolia. Since he was a young boy, he always had the fire in his eyes and his father knew that he was going to be a strong man that would lead their people. In this stand-alone manga, you follow the life of the historical figure Genghis Khan.

This is the kind of manga where you would have to sit down and read it properly. Otherwise, you would easily get confused. Not only do the characters all look similar but their names are so difficult to remember. You would have to flip back and forth a couple of times to know who is who in the story. But once you are in the right mood to read the manga, it's not that bad.

I don't think the manga provides enough history for one to understand why Genghis Khan was so great to those who have heard of him for the first time. The manga only covered a couple of key events in his life and they are more or so personal with his friend/enemy, Jamuqa. I think it would be more interesting to those who know about Genghis Khan and would like to see a manga version of him.

For sure, Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea it is not something that will appeal to the majority of the manga-reading audience. But for those who know a bit about the history, it should be checked out.

Review copy provided by
CMX.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Title: Prophecy of the Sisters
Author: Michelle Zink
Description: Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have
also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has
turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves
entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents’
deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.

Lia and Alice don’t know whom they can trust.

They just know they can’t trust each other.



This is one of my top novels on my mental wishlist. I've been reading nothing short of amazing reviews for this one so I pretty much hope to get it one day!

And the pictures taken in this trailer is none other than our talented book blogger of Reverie Book Reviews! Oooh, I envy her photography skills!

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Author Interview: Cherry Cheva

After reading She's So Money, I had to get an interview with Cherry Cheva! Her latest YA novel Duplikate is soon to be released and she also writes the scripts for the popular cartoon sitcom, The Family Guy!

You can learn more about her at
http://www.cherrycheva.com/.

What inspired you to write She's So Money?

The time I totally masterminded a multi-thousand dollar cheating ring in high school with this ridiculously hot guy? Yeah, right. :) Basically the very, very original inspiration was to sort of flip the genders in “The King and I” and then the actual story grew from the background fact that my parents own a Thai restaurant, and what might’ve happened if I’d waited tables there in high school. Then the cheating ring was just like, okay, how do you get these two characters to interact who would normally hate each other and never have a reason to do so?

Were there any changes the characters had to undergo before you were satisfied with the results?

You mean from the original draft? No, not really...Maya was always who she was, Camden was always who he was...but the actual characters themselves both did learn a lesson of some sort, if that’s what you mean, and yeah, it would have been less satisfying if they hadn’t.

Did you always wanted to be an author?

Short answer: yes. Longer answer: yes, but I totally didn’t think I could do it. I mean, a career in writing didn’t seem even REMOTELY realistic, so off I went to law school, even though I knew I wanted to take a crack at TV writing eventually. But I’d written short stories as a kid/teenager and always thought writing was LIKE THE COOLEST THING EVER so when the opportunity came up to write a book, I was like HELL YES!

What is the hardest part in writing a story for you? And the easiest?

The hardest is the first draft! Oh, how I hate it! I do the “crap draft” thing where basically you just spit it out, whatever it is, even though you know it sucks, so then at least you have something to type over later when you’re revising. I just hate the blank page staring at you...would much rather have words on it first to work with. The easiest is...hmmm. I guess dialogue is slightly less taxing than, like, writing description, probably because that’s what I’m used to from TV writing. My editors are always telling me to be more describey and in screenwriting they’re always telling you to be less describey.

What is your writing process like?

Disjointed! I’m a terrible, terrible internet procrastinator...I’ll write like three sentences and then be checking email again or looking up pictures of cats. If I have a deadline I’m much better about it, but usually it’s just a lot of clicking back and forth between the internet and my actual document. And the TV. Also, since I have a day job that also involves writing, most of the time at the end of the day when I get home I’m kinda tapped out and the last thing I want to do is work on something else. So I tend to be a weekend warrior when it comes to book stuff. Unless, of course, deadline.

If you can bring any of your characters to life from any of your novels, who would it be?

Camden King, so I can borrow money and throw parties at his house, although it might be weird for a grown woman to be borrowing money from a high school kid, but whatever, we’ll just gloss over that part, because hello, he’s filthy rich.

Are you writing any new stories at the moment? If so, can you please give a quick blurb about it?

Yep, although I’m not really sure I can talk about it right now...but I *can* blurb the hell out of my next Family Guy episode, so I will do that! It’s about Stewie being obsessed with Hannah Montana, and the Evil Monkey finally coming out of hiding and making friends with the family. I think it airs in November.

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

Oh! Um...sometimes I wear children’s shoes because they’re totally cheaper than adult shoes. This is one of the few advantages to being short.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

In My Mailbox - XLI

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


The Borrowed

None

The Bought

None

The Received

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Ah, today's my post-17th birthday! Lol! Thank you everyone you wished me a happy birthday yesterday. =)

Anyway, I didn't get much this week. I don't mind (but no one got me any books for my birthday... Sadface). I still have to review a couple of books but with school demanding my time, I just am so lazy! My words and thoughts are slipping too. I only have part of this week scheduled and after that, my reviews will become more infrequent. :(


I started this new meme thingie called Q4U. Basically I just ask a question to you lovely readers and you simply give me your opinion on it. Please click here to answer the first question!

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Q4U: How long do you prefer a review to be? And what contents? + HBD to me!

Before I continue, I want to say...

Happy 17th Birthday to me! :D

By Nyralia
(My avatar on Gaiaonline. I used to be addicted to the site! Was an art addict too! But I have grown...)

Yaaaayyy! (I'm such a dork!) Haha, I will try not to care about my waistline and eat to my heart content today! o(*0*)o <-Knows she'll feel bad afterwards!

Originally, I was planning to host a giveaway in celebration of my birthday. But unfortunately, I really do not have the funds for it! (Money is money, no matter how much it is! Sucks with no job too...) So I apologize that there will be no giveaway this year for my birthday. Maybe I will try for Christmas? (But then I have to start funding for my friends' presents! Ack! Money, money, money!)

Anyway, I am starting this new little thing I came up with myself called Q4U (AKA: Question for you :] ) Intentionally, I wanted to use it to improve my blog because sometimes people just don't bother with surveys. But I guess I will use it for any other book/manga related questions (or something completely off-topic!). It's not like a regular meme. Just a question I want to ask others when I am dying for an answer from the majority about whatever that is bothering me. (Or maybe sometimes use it as a filler when my reviews get scarce?) Therefore, my Q4Us will be on random days!

Feel free to do your own Q4U too! I'm sure you want to ask your readers something! You can make it a regular meme for your blog if you'd like. :)

Anyway, this question has been bothering me for awhile and I really would like to hear you amazing readers' opinions on it:

What length do you prefer the reviews you read to be? And what should be in the review?

I tend to do a medium-sized review for whatever I've read or watched with my own personalized summary in the beginning. I would then try to talk about plot, characters, writing, and art (if applicable) if I could. Sometimes it may be short because I do not have a lot of opinion for it. While other times it can be long when I have a lot of things I want to say. I am curious on what you are inclined to read more. Something that is quick so you can continue on with your life or do you prefer something with great length with a lot of elaborations? Let me know in the comments below!

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Running on the Cracks by Julia Donaldson

Title: Running on the Cracks
Author: Julia Donaldson
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 218
My Rating: 4/5

With family you have but never knew, would you ever bother to search for them?

Leonora Watts-Chan will continue looking for her long-lost grandparents as long as she has the will to do so. She runs away from home where she lived with her aunt and uncle. She is desperate to find the family she never met after her parents died. But how can she make it through when she has no shelter or food?

Mary, a mentally handicapped woman, offers Leo to stay at her overcrowded home. She can never be more happier to oblige. At Mary's, she is introduced to a very eccentric bunch. But she develops a certain friendship with the paperboy she stole food from named Finlay. Together, they scour around town in hope of finding Leo's grandparents. What Leo doesn't know is there is someone tracking her down too...

Running on the Cracks is a unique novel. It is told by two sides of the story, Finlay's and Leo's. It is a provocative journey with the protagonist as she desperately seeks out her father's side of the family. I was surprised that she went through such measures as in running away from home to do such, but she had her reasons. I think all the characters' personalities are one of their own. I didn't really favour Mary since she was ill and the way she acted bothered me, but it made the novel to be much more different compared to others. I think Finlay is a cute kid. He's still at the age where he is in the beginning of high school so he's trying to find himself through dressing means (ex. goth, punk, etc).

It did let me down when I found out the big suspense wasn't as big as I thought it was. Well, maybe it was if you were in the situation but the way everything was written, it seemed so toned down. But what I love the most about Running on the Cracks is that there is something in the writing that keeps you glued. The storyline is not the most exciting out there, but it keeps your attention 100%. I was able to finish the entire book within a day, which is a rare case for me.

Julia Donaldson's debut for young adults is definitely a memorable piece with real characters all around.

Review copy provided by
Henry Holt and Company.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ninja Girls by Hosana Tanaka

Title: Ninja Girls
Mangaka: Hosana Tanaka
Age Group: Older Teens
Series is: Ongoing with 6 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Raizo is a young demon with a horn on top of his head and because of his race, humans fear and shun him. Life with his deceased mother's
ihai (a mortuary tablet in honoured of deceased loved ones), Raizo does not have much to live for.

That is until he stumbles upon a body of a beautiful young woman, unconscious in the water. Out of good heart, he takes her back to his place so she will not get sick. When she wakes up, her name is given as Kagari and apparently is looking for a boy with a horn growing on top of his head. Raizo who always keeps his horn hidden is afraid to tell her that it is him whom she is searching for.

But then, Raizo gets attacked! After Kagari saves him with her secret powers, she tells him that he is the last survivor of the Katana family! Raizo is the child of the late feudal lord and no one ever told him?? That's pretty awesome, except now he has enemies going after his head! With gorgeous ninja girls to protect him, will Raizo be able to restore the fallen kingdom?

Ninja Girls delivers a fresh take of manga to the readers. Of course, there is the theme where the main guy is surrounded by beautiful women (and uh, man). But nonetheless, it is enjoyable to read about Raizo and the other characters as they fall into unexpected situations. So far, the story has not become so serious just yet. I want to know why the ninjas who are assigned to protect Raizo with their lives are doing what they are doing. Most of the time, one would not randomly sacrifice their self for another unless something had happened to them in the past that led them to such decision. I'm sure the mangaka will include their stories later on in the series (hopefully!).

What I really love the most is Raizo's mother's
ihai. It's pretty funny because although she is dead, she still lives on in the monument. Whenever Raizo says something she disagrees, the ihai will fall onto his head or hit him across the face. Speaking of Raizo's mother, I am curious about why she hid the truth from her son that he is part of the royal family. I hope that this will be cleared up in the following volumes.

I really like the art for Ninja Girls.The lines and shadings are extremely neat. The mangaka definitely knows how to draw sexy females but at the same time, civilians who look like they belong in the era. But what bothers me is the fact that one of the character, Kisarabi, is the only person who looks so awkward! I think the eyepatch she wears makes it difficult for the mangaka to draw her more propotional because every time she appears, I wish the mangaka settled for another design! What vexes me the most is that the ninjas wear so little clothing but somehow manage to keep them all on! Especially Kisarabi's! Her top is this one vest thing that never slips off! I mean, how can it cover her boobs halfway like that! Oh the world of manga and art...

Ninja Girls is a lively new manga series that manga fans should definitely take a peek of!

Review copy provided by
Del Rey.

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