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.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Contest for Aspiring YA Authors

I have a little announcement from Book Wish Foundation for any of my readers who are hoping to one day be a writer!

Win a literary agent or acclaimed author's feedback on your unpublished manuscript for young adult or middle grade readers. This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation. See http://bookwish.org/contest for full details.

You could win a manuscript critique from:

- Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot
- Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau
- Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust
- Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe
- Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
- Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation's new anthology, What You Wish For. Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012. If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven't finished, or started, your manuscript). You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques.

If you dream of being a published author, this is an opportunity you should not miss. To enter, follow the instructions at http://bookwish.org/contest.

Good luck and best wishes,

Logan Kleinwaks
President, Book Wish Foundation

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 354
My Rating: 4/5

In 2083, chocolate and caffeine are illegal, paper is practically non-existent and many places we know of today are in ruins. Anya's father used to be a notorious crime boss (who is now deceased), so people judge her for her background. With her sick grandmother and her two siblings to take care of, it's hard to try to juggle life as is along with school work and relationship problems.

When Anya's ex-boyfriend, Gable, gets poisoned and nearly dies from the chocolate she gave him, the police thinks she is the culprit. Unable to get away from it all, the attention is now all on her.

Never have I read a novel where I found three characters, THREE, that I could totally see myself in. Usually the main character is the easiest to relate to (unless it's written in first person but different POVs). First, I want to start off with Anya's best friend, Scarlet. Scarlet is a hopeless romantic who has crushes on guys really easily. It was hilarious to read (for me personally) because it was the first time I have seen a character with this personality since I am exactly the same. But then you have Anya who is a complete realist. Anya and Win (the obvious boy interest) admit to liking each other but Anya understands that with her situation, she is unable to date Win because his father is the new assistant DA's son. Win likes Anya but is not the kind of guy to relentlessly pursue if she clearly is not interested. I have never had any favourite quotes from the books I've read before but here is one from Win:

"Yes, because if you don't like me, I'll stop bothering you," Win said. "I'm not the type of person to linger where I'm unwanted." - page 176

I very much saw myself in this quote because I know that even if I like a guy and I told him but he is not interested, I'll back off. I'll still be friends if he wants but I'm not going to do anything to further the relationship. It's refreshing to read that the male character won't go through that cliche plot of trying to chase down the girl.

Story-wise, I thought there was going to be a lot more action considering there is the mafia involved. Instead, it mainly focuses on Anya's everyday life, some of which gets really complicated but nothing with car chases or things blowing up (action movies much?). It is written with a steady pace and plenty of character development, just not a lot of bang as expected.

Overall, a nice read with tons of great characters. It's great for anyone who wants to read with a future setting but none of the dystopia or robotic futuristic feel. It's definitely something different (though I still can't understand the logic of banning caffeine and chocolate). I will close this review with another favourite quote from the book:

"...You can either be a bystander who lives his life in reaction to the decisions that others make, or you can be the leader who is making those decisions." - page 281

Review copy provided by Macmillan.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki

Title: Kamisama Kiss
Mangaka: Julietta Suzuki
Age Group: Teens
Series is: Ongoing with 8 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 3-4
My Rating: 4.5/5

In volume 3, Nanami rescues a poor snake that is being harassed by her classmates. She doesn't realize that her goodwill leads her to being marked by the snake for betrothal! The snake turns out to be a shinshi named Mizuki who ends up kidnapping her and wanting her by his side forever!

The first half of this volume is a bit more serious compared to what has been happening so far. Mizuki plays a vital role in the series from this point on after being introduced. Why he kidnapped Nanami is quick to be revealed and that part of the story ends after three chapters. It switches back to a more fun note when Nanami gets sick and Tomoe takes her place at school by transforming himself into her. Meanwhile, Nanami who is at home sick is visited by Mizuki. He transports her soul back to the past to show her what Tomoe was really like.

In volume 4, Nanami goes to the beach with her friends and has Tomoe and Mizuki tagging along. Tomoe is unable to enter the water but when Nanami's friend, Ami, gets swept away by the ocean, he dives in to save her. Ryu-Oh Sukuna, the ruler of the sea, shows up immediately to take Tomoe away because of what he did years ago. In return for him, Nanami must find Ryu-Oh's missing eye. Will she be able to find it?

Nanami has developed strong feelings for Tomoe recently, which she confesses to him in the beginning of this volume. Volume 3 and 4 have been giving a lot of insight and depth on each character. With a bit of Tomoe's past revealed and the events that happened around it with Nanami, it foreshadows some things that will likely occur in the next volume or two. It is very sweet to see how much Nanami cares for Tomoe and will do anything in order to save him (though in honesty I feel that it is too much sometimes). I quite enjoy the last couple of chapters in volume 4 because Mizuki managed to permanently situate himself into Tomoe's and Nanami's lives. I am curious to see how it all turns out.

Review copies provided by Viz.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Unfinished Reading: Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson

Title: Invisible Things
Author: Jenny Davidson
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 261
My Rating: 2/5

It is the year of 1938 and Sophie is currently staying with her friend, Mikael's, family in Denmark. She starts to become curious about her parents' deaths because they died in an explosion. She has a feeling it is just more than that and wants to know the truth. Meanwhile trying to figure out the secrets that are being kept from her, war threatens the country.

I usually never give a full-length review for books I don't finish and have them in Short & Simple instead. However, I haven't blogged for so long so might as well give my overall opinion on this one. So from now on, all the full-length reviews for the unfinished books will be under the Unfinished Reading tag.

I actually did not realize that Invisible Things is a sequel to Davidson's debut, The Explosionist, until I quickly skimmed other reviews before starting this one. So definitely for the first thing, covers of a series should always have some sort of reoccurring theme because this cover and the first look nothing alike. So I came in thinking that I am reading the first novel of the series.

When I read the description of the novel, it sounded interesting and I could use some historical themes in my YA reading. However, I was quite disappointed as you could probably tell already. The plot was extremely slow moving and that made it hard to follow. There was a lot of unnecessary detailed writing for actions and thoughts and so-forth that did not add anything to the novel but more reading to get to the main point. I have no comments for the main character or anyone else because like the plot, character development and voice went nowhere. Although I stopped at a point where things were starting to pick up, it was not enough to hold my attention to even know what the climax was.

If anything, I think this novel will appeal to history buffs. It has scientists such as the famous Niels Bohr and Alfred Nobel. I am honestly not too familiar with the history of Europe during the late '30s but this is an alternate historical novel so it wouldn't matter too much.

Review copy provided by HarperCollins Canada.
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman

Title: Where the Truth Lies
Author: Jessica Warman
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 320
My Rating: 4.5/5

To everyone, Emily has a perfect life. She attends a prep school where her father is the headmaster of and has three best friends. However, for most of her life she has been having nightmares frequently, about either water or fire, but doesn't know why. She goes to therapy frequently but nothing helps.

Enter Del Sugar, a new boy in school with a mysterious background and has an attraction to Emily. She doesn't understand why he likes her, but nonetheless is compelled by his bad boy charm. Being with him makes her feel alive and she loves every second of it. But then the truth of Emily's past starts to unravel and things start to fall apart. What will she decide in the end?

When I first started out the novel, it was readable but didn't completely grab my attention. I had it by my bed for about two months until I decided to take a stab at it again.

The more I read, the more I was seeing bits of myself in Emily. When you have a character that you strongly relate to in any sense, you want to continue reading til the end to see what will happen to them. I won't spoil anything but everything her parents did was in order to protect her. I felt that she was similar to me in that aspect because I have such conservative parents and they won't let me do anything; but I know in the end they want what is best for me.

I found Del's part to be so interesting because he didn't like Emily for no apparent reason, compared to most YA novels I've read. Del is a very complex character and has quite a history of his own. I like that there are a lot of dimensions to him and Emily. So it was quite fascinating to read how both reacted to the same situation differently because of their mindset. Another character I found quite unique was Emily's long-time friend, Stephanie, because she had the biggest brother complex on the planet. The aspect she plays in the novel is that friends sometimes do no last forever and I love how the author added that to the book. No matter how long of a history that you and a friend may have, there are things in life that will separate you over time.

After reading this novel, especially if you're a young adult, it really does put things into perspective when it comes to being responsible. Emily did something that changed her life forever. It really put a huge strain on her and made her question a lot of things. I would be devastated if she was my daughter and knew what she went through. It really made me appreciate my parents.

This is a fantastic novel dealing with growing up and making hard decisions in life. Where the Truth Lies gives everyone something to think about.

Review copy provided by Penguin Canada.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Destined by P.C. and Kristin Cast + GIVEAWAY

Title: Destined
Author: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Description: ...Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet – which would be a whole lot easier if the High Counsel saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together – if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow…

To all of the House of Night fans out there, here is a goody for you! Enter to win the 9th volume of this series!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Natsume's Book of Friends by Yuki Midorikawa

Title: Natsume's Book of Friends
Mangaka: Yuki Midorikawa
Age Group: Teens
Series is: Ongoing with 12 mangas
Volume(s) Reviewing: 9
My Rating: 4/5

No good deed goes unpunished, and this applies very much to Natsume, despite always returning names to demons from the Book of Friends. A yokai demands her ring back after Natsume returned her name, thinking he stole it. Natsume did not, but thinks he knows where it may be. Can he get it back in time to the angry yokai before she tries to get rid of him??

Natsume's Book of Friends is one of the few manga series I enjoy lately in print. I felt by this volume, the excitement has died down since I have read the first 5-6 volumes of the series. I enjoyed it nonetheless, but it seemed like the mangaka's creativity is declining. This tends to happen to a lot of run-on series, especially with those that have a new story each chapter.

Natsume is still the same up to this point, which is something I like about his character because he treats yokai with respect. However, he always gets stuck in sticky situations due to his personality. The first story in this volume has a cute, simple fluffball demon that Natsume has a soft spot for. After, you get some tribal demons that cause a ruckus. That leads to Mr. Matoba, an exorcist who wants to get rid of all the yokai in the world. He tries to get information out of Natsume regarding his grandmother but fails. This story clues in the reader that Mr. Matoba will return in future volumes and cause more trouble. Being familiar with the style and having read so many volumes of this series, the problem will likely be "toned down" in terms of shock factor.

The ninth volume of Natsume's Book of Friends is still a nice and light read. Likely though, you would start forgetting what had happened after you finished.

Review copy provided by Viz.
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody + GIVEAWAY

Title: My Life Undecided
Author: Jessica Brody
Description: "...Brooklyn Pierce, a fifteen year-old girl notorious for making bad decisions, enlists the help of the online blog reading population to vote on how she should live her life. But some things in life simply aren't a choice...like who you fall in love with."



This cute teen novel is up for a giveaway! If you like the idea and/or the trailer, here is your chance to win!

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Title: Ouran High School Host Club
Mangaka: Bisco Hatori
Age Group: Teens
Series is: Completed with 18 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 16
My Rating: 4/5

Mori declares a fight with Hunny, just before graduation. Does it mean they will separate for good?? Along with that, it seems like there is something suspicious cooking up in Tamaki's household.

For the past couple of volumes, it has been building up Tamaki's personal life and his family business. With his grandmother who hates him for who he is, she is finally letting him move into the Suoh's main mansion. However, it seems like there may be a hidden agenda. This volume is full of family politics. To the point where you wonder why the mangaka did not fast-forward the characters age to college or at least senior year of high school since the story has been going on for so many volumes and it would be more appropriate.

This volume is the peak of where Tamaki and Haruhi fully realize their feelings for each other. Acting exactly like high school students (which they are), they get embarrassed every time they see each other and sometimes end up in shojo scenarios that drive them insane. At this point I am waiting for the ending and hopefully see where everyone is in 10 years.

The end features two bonus stories, one where you FINALLY get to see Haruhi's mother. It is where Haruhi's father relentlessly pursue after his interest in a woman six years his senior. And honest to god, it is an adorable love-at-first sight story. And the second story is with the twins' grandmother and you get see how she contributes to their quirky personalities.

Review copy provided by Viz.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Uzumaki by Junji Ito

Title: Uzumaki
Mangaka: Junji Ito
Age Group: Older Teens
Series is: Completed with 3 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1-3
My Rating: 5/5

A Japanese town called Kurozucho is cursed by the spiral. The inhabitants get obsessed with spirals and strange happenings occur across town. What doom will be brought upon the people and the town?

I have read another horror series by the same mangaka called Gyo two years ago. Both have the same level of scare because of the surreal and utterly creepy situations. Gyo has a continuous story for 2 volumes where the protagonist tries to survive. In Uzumaki, the chapter at the beginning of the story is drawn out to a few chapters. After that, every chapter is a story of its own but with Kirie (the main girl) in each of them and experiencing the horrors of the spiral. That is, until the very end when everything comes together.

Spirals could be seen anywhere, such as a snail's shell. Using different things in the world around us that contain spirals, the mangaka creates some terrifying tales. After reading this series, I couldn't sleep properly that night. I managed to dream about the story and continued it in my head in some warped way.

I highly recommend Uzumaki (and Gyo) to anyone who wants a horror story outside of their boundaries. Perfect for the month of Halloween.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

1st reply wins audiobook of Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon!

US mailing addresses only. :) Post now to win!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Watching on Wednesday: The Playboy Club - Episode 1

Title: The Playboy Club - Episode 1
Type: Show
Age Group: Teens +
Release Year: 2011
My Rating: 5/5

It is the early 1960s and life is grand for all the rich men out there with a key to the Playboy Mansion. They get to watch musical performances, dance with the gorgeous Bunnies, and dine and wine as much as they please.

Maureen (Amber Heard) is a newly employed Bunny. Things went for a bad turn after she pushed away a customer who groped her. Mad that she did that to him, the man confronted her in the back room and tried to rape her. Nick (Eddie Cibrian), another customer, tried to save her when he saw the struggle. Maureen kicked her attacker and accidentally punctured his throat with her heel. She just killed a notorious mafia leader and now must dump the body with Nick or they would both be dead. Will she be able to get away without getting caught?

I am so glad I pulled out another hour in order to watch this new show premiere. I have little background of the Playboy Mansion but if life was like it was portrayed on the show, I wouldn't mind being either a rich man or Bunny myself! I absolutely love the sensual feeling and Hollywood glamour. It honestly takes you to another world.

Ambiance aside, I love that this show is about real characters in a surreal situation where they are faced with many challenges in their lives. These Bunnies are not hypersexualized characters. Rather, they each have their own reason for being there.

The most interesting character I found to be was Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti). In the beginning she was Nick's girlfriend but after discovering Maureen in his condo, she thought he cheated on her and then left him promptly. Carol-Lynne is an intelligent woman of her time and I greatly admired that. Being the first Bunny, she is fiercely dedicated to the Playboy Mansion. She goes out of her way to advise management on how to run business more smoothly. After when she became the Mama Bunny of the girls, she created a human resources plan (which was not too widely done during that time) in order to train all new-coming Bunnies. Not only intelligent but she stands on her own two feet and refuse to go running back to Nick just because he bought her some earrings and did some smooth talking. Also, she is a person you do not want to cross because you will never know when she could strike. After what had happened at Nick's apartment, Maureen was nothing but truly sorry and also feared Carol-Lynne at the same time.

I praised one character way too much but it was because she is a fantastic one. Everyone else nonetheless captured their role well. Though I do want to complain on Nick just a bit because I have seen many characters like him before. Rich, good-looking, intelligent, love beautiful women, and have the power of seduction. He is exactly like Harvey Specter from the lawyer show, Suits (funny cause Nick is a lawyer too!).

The Playboy Club has amazing drama and real-life characters. The episode does not exactly end as a cliffhanger but it indeed makes you worry for Maureen and Nick. I highly recommend this show for those who loves drama but want to get away from the usual hospital or teen drama.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

xxxHolic by CLAMP

Title: xxxHolic
Mangaka: CLAMP
Age Group: Teens
Series is: Completed with 19 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 17
My Rating: 4.5/5

Watanuki is still new at being the shopkeeper now. When a customer who comes in is someone he knows and is quite dangerous, how will he handle their wish?

I was sent out of the blue the 17th volume of xxxHolic to review. Luckily having read up to the 11th volume or so, I knew that I didn't have to read everything from beginning to end. However, having to missed out on a few volumes prior to this one, I did lose out on key information (such as, why Yuko retired and where is she now?).

In this volume returns an old character, the Jorogumo, wanting to get a wish granted from Watanuki. Being the shop owner now, he must grant every wish he receives. Whenever there is a new case in xxxHolic, each one tends to be haunting and sometimes, a beautiful mystery. This is no different when the Jorogumo wanted a red pearl. However, there is only to be one big "case" for this volume contrast to the other volumes when Yuko constantly had new customers coming in all the time and each story more unique than the one before.

Watanuki's demeanor has definitely changed now that he is bounded to the shop, unable to ever leave its premises (except when he needs to with a bit of magic). He has grown more mature and more refined in his actions now. Despite not fully liking Domeki in the very beginning of the series, the two are quite close now even though they would deny it. Himawari is no longer in the picture because she is unable to step into the shop due to its dangers except for once a year. However, Watanuki is still able to contact her through phone. Despite never being able to be together, their feelings for each other are still strong.

What I wonder the most is how this series will end because I am basically 2 volumes away from it. Nonetheless, xxxHolic is a series that any manga fan could appreciate for its detailed and hauntingly sad, but lovely stories.

Review copy provided by Del Rey.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 324
My Rating: 3.5/5

Scarlett and Rosie March are sisters who have gone through the hardships of knowing the existence of the Fenris. The Fenris are evil wolf-creatures in the form of men who hunt down girls and feed on them. Scarlett, who had lost her eye protecting her baby sister when they first encountered a Fenris, refuses to rest until she eliminates all of the Fenris on Earth. But what happens when Rosie's love interest may ruin everything?

Comparing this to other YA novels, this one definitely has a lot of action where (mainly) Scarlett and Rosie go out to lure these Fenris in order to kill them. Unlike her sister, Rosie does not want to dedicate her entire life to killing these creatures which I can sympathize. Scarlett considers this being selfish and not caring for those who dies in the hands of the Fenris. In my opinion, I found Scarlett to be the most selfish character of all, thinking that Rosie will be by her side forever and fighting. It irritated me because I believe in personal freedom and that one should not be guilted in living a certain way. I felt for Rosie because she owes her big sister her life and has that obligation to fight the Fenris.

The story seems to me though was set up to evolve around a forbidden romance, which is something I am not a big fan of. Forbidden romance is indeed overused in YA, but if done correctly with the story structure, it's fine. However, when it seems like there are action and scary creatures JUST so there could be some forbidden romance, it gets obvious and can get in the way of the actual plot and takes away the enjoyment of the novel.

One thing for sure that irritated me is that fact that these Fenris prey on pretty girls. Scarlett discriminates on those that dresses up and goes to the club because they are considered bait for the Fenris. I am sick and tired of girls that are dressed nice and considered "popular" to be bad or being the one getting killed. I know from personal experiences that looking good gives you confidence. And that confidence helps empower you to step out of your boundaries. I want to read a book that doesn't have these girls as the bad guys. It's funny because when the GUY is good-looking, the main character is all over him. And then they end up together. WTF?! I know this rant should be a separate post completely but I have already typed so much and I don't have time. So I apologize for the side rant.

I would recommend Sisters Red to anyone who would like to see more action in their YA reading for sure. It could be a like or dislike depending on your taste but you won't be missing out.

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Dreamland by Alyson Noel + GIVEAWAY

Title: Dreamland
Author: Alyson Noel
Description: Riley's finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer's dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it's her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who's been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.


Yes, yes, another giveaway. o-o I apologize I haven't put up any reviews. Second year at university is hectic when you want to be on top of your classes and add in extracurricular activities. I'll try to get a review up soon since I have about 3 planned. Until then, enjoy the free giveaways. :) Check the above links for more giveaways!

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Giveaway is open to Canadian and US mailing addresses only. Closes on September 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST.
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Giveaway: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Description: In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Like the sound of this new spanking YA novel? Well guess what? Giveaway time!

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Giveaway ends September 17th, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Canadian and US mailing addresses only!



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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Hades by Alexandra Adornetto + GIVEAWAY

Title: Hades
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Description: Heaven Help Her.

Bethany Church is an angel sent to Earth to keep dark forces at bay. Falling in love was never part of her mission, but the bond between Beth and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier Woods, is undeniably strong. But even Xavier?s love, and the care of her archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can?t keep Beth from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell. There, the demon Jake Thorn bargains for Beth?s release back to Earth. But what he asks of her will destroy her, and quite possibly, her loved ones, as well.


Another giveaway? Yes! I personally haven't read Halo but I remember seeing it around on the blogosphere when it first came out. For fans of the first novel, you will get a chance to win the sequel, Hades, here!

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Giveaway is opened to Canadian and US mailing addresses only and closes on Sept 10, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Boyfriend from Hell by E. Van Lowe

Title: Boyfriend from Hell
Author: E. Van Lowe
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 256
My Rating: 5/5

Megan is in disbelief at the idea of her mom, Suze, dating. She pretends she is happy for Suze though, because that is the right thing to do even though she feels otherwise. When perfect Spanish-accented Armando comes into their lives, Megan should be glad for her mom right? After all, he is the entire package. Except Megan could not help but hated him at first sight. Things started to get suspicious around Megan and Armando may have something to do with it. She wants him far away from her mother, fast. But once she finds out who he really is, is there any way to get rid of him forever?

Having read Never Slow Dance with a Zombie (a novel that should not be taken seriously in order to have a good laugh), I was not too sure what to expect of this novel because when I started, it didn't seem to be a comedy. It was a more serious book and one I highly enjoyed. In the beginning, I thought it was going be a typical teen novel where the girl wants a boyfriend so bad and eventually will get him through some cliche circumstances with paranormal involved. Which in a way was true. However, it was much more than that.

After discovering that Armando is Satan, Megan did everything in her power to protect her mother and destroy him once and for all. Her two best friends, Matt and Erin thought she was crazy, but she still persisted on. Even after they have ditched her until she was willing to get help, Megan was heartbroken but still had her mother first in mind. I admired her so much seeing how she much she was willing to risk everything for her only parent who raised her. After her friends left her, it was really cool that she became close friends with Maudrina, a classmate she used to make fun of but realizes she was wrong for being mean and slowly bonded throughout the novel.

Everything in the novel was pitch perfect...except for one thing. The romance. Megan meets a mysterious boy named Guy, whom she soon had a relationship with. The problem for me was I did not feel any chemistry off the pages. It felt a little forced and out of place with the rest of the story. Other than this, I loved it. The climax and ending were a complete surprise and a twist one would never expect!

I highly recommend Boyfriend from Hell for those who wants to try out a book with Satan in it. Either way, I think anyone who is a teen novel lover should try it out!

Review copy provided by E. Van Lowe.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

My Monday Mailbox & Music Machine (Aug 22/11)

Mailbox


Received

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

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Music Machine

Title: Bad Girl
Artist/Band: SNSD
Language: Japanese
My Thoughts: Another fun song by one of my favourite Kpop bands. :)


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Giveaway: Audiobook for Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I recently did a giveaway for the new novel Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Unfortunately it lasted less than 2 weeks and some may have missed their chance to enter. So I have a new giveaway for the same novel except in audiobook format! This is perfect for long car rides and you're unable to read (roadtrip idea!).

To make this easier for me and equal opportunity for everyone, simply become a follower through GFC (will check) and comment below!

Open until September 17, 2011 at 11:59 EST. US mailing addresses only.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Watching on Wednesday: Friends with Benefits

Title: Friends with Benefits
Type: Movie
Age Group: Older Teens +
Release Year: 2011
My Rating: 5/5

Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a corporate headhunter in the Big Apple. She is determined to get her hands on Dylan (Justin Timberlake), an extremely talented art director of a small internet company in L.A. She convinces him to stay and work in N.Y.C. for GQ Magazine after being so reluctant.

Later hanging out as friends, they realize that neither of them wanted commitment in a relationship. So they decided to have a go at being friends with benefits. Will it work?

Ever since I saw the movie trailer months back, I wanted to see it so bad. So bad that I went to the movies by myself just to watch it. And I have to say, money well spent!

There are comparisons to No Strings Attached starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. However, having seen both movies, there is a huge difference between them. In my opinion, I will take FwB over NSA any day. In NSA, it focused mainly on the two protagonists together, not much of anything else. However with FwB, you get to see their work lives and family dynamic. Being someone who is interested in the fancier end of business, this was a bonus for me when I get to see how glamorous Dylan's job was. I felt that Dylan and Jamie had such great chemistry. They can be each others' best friends in times of need. I absolutely love all the funny parts. Not to mentioned, it's not cliche at all! What can I say, I am obsessed with romcoms.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of romantic comedies. And better yet, this is a movie the girl can take her guy to watch because it has the humour and sexual content that he would enjoy.


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Monday, August 15, 2011

Panjandrum by J.J. Telly

Title: Panjandrum
Author: J.J. Telly
Age Group: Tweens
# of Pages: 288
My Rating: 5/5

Gelsem's world is made up of Levels. She lives a very content life on Level Gee where she does not care to explore the mystery and lifestyle of the other Levels. But everything changes when she wakes up one day to find that she is not in her comfy bed, but in a wooden box! She realizes that she is kidnapped and is now a few Levels below her home Level! Now on Level Pee, she has to figure out why she is there and more importantly, how will she get out?

I admit, in the very beginning I was in a reading slump so I did not absorb as much as I should. When I brought it in to finish reading at work, I was completely hooked! I absolutely love this fantasy world Telly created around these Levels. So there is a Level from A to Z, but of course spelled out like Cee or Emm. Each Level is known for the things that starts with the letter of the Level. For example, my name is Diana and I'm from Level Dee where it is famous for its dancers, drummers and daredevils (I made this up! But you get the gist of it). Each Level has monsters and characters of its own with their very unique attributes. I absolutely love it when a story has a pack load of the author's monsters because it is new and different. You just do not know what to expect!

Gelsem is one of the few viewpoints you get to read as new characters are introduced. They all eventually collide together through different circumstances. What makes these characters unique is that you have a couple that you don't know if you want to support or have bad things happen to them. They get stuck in complex situations and then it would be shades of grey in terms of their actions for the reader.

What I love that Panjandrum had to offer was the freedom from what I usually read. The characters are young but with ages scattering from thirteen to eighteen. I am just genuinely glad that there is none of that young romance situation and some teen cliches I am used to seeing. It is just an honestly fun book to read. When I finished, I was thinking that every single middle school should have this book on their shelves for their students to read. Yes, every single middle school. It has the adventures, the monsters, the twists and turns, and the fun aspect. Highly recommended.

Review copy provided by J.J. Telly.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Winner of Retribution

Winner of Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon is... Bee W Bedard! :) Congrats! :D
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Watching on Wednesday: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Title: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Type: Movie
Age Group: Youth +
Release Year: 2008
My Rating: 4/5

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is back with another adventure when greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf) tells him that his old colleague is kidnapped by the Soviets. The Soviets want to find the Crystal Skull, an artifact that rumours that whoever is its founder would give them great powers and riches beyond their imagination. Indiana must get to the Crystal Skull first before the Soviets do and use it for dark purposes. Will he be able to make it?

Prior to this movie, I have never watched Indiana Jones. Therefore, I had nothing to compare it to, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Luckily, it was a good thing for me.

This movie dealt a lot more with action by fighting the bad guys and racing to find the Crystal Skull. There wasn't that huge depth of character interactions, but there was a bit to give the plot a little push. The ride was good and I enjoyed it as I watched it. There were a couple of comical moments, but other than that, gun shots and running away for 95% of the time.

The end though was a disappointment. I was expecting something grand and historical. Like, a real life artifact or myth with a twist. [SPOILERS] Instead, the Crystal Skull was actually an alien. Or at least, made up an alien because there were 7 Crystal Skulls. That just killed the movie because you would be hyped up to know what this magical item did and finding out that it turned out to be a sci-fi movie just makes you go "What??" [SPOILERS END]

I wouldn't rush out to get this movie but pick it up if you're ever at the library and want something to kill time with.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon + GIVEAWAY

Title: Retribution
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Description: ...Harm no human…

A hired gunslinger, William Jessup Brady lived his life with one foot in the grave. He believed that every life had a price. Until the day when he finally found a reason to live. In one single act of brutal betrayal, he lost everything, including his life. Brought back by a Greek goddess to be one of her Dark-Hunters, he gave his immortal soul for vengeance and swore he’d spend eternity protecting the humans he’d once considered prey.

Orphaned as a toddler, Abigail Yager was taken in by a family of vampires and raised on one belief- Dark-Hunters are the evil who prey on both their people and mankind, and they must all be destroyed. While protecting her adoptive race, she has spent her life eliminating the Dark-Hunters...


I haven't put up any trailers for ages. However, I was asked if I would like to host a giveaway for Retribution and was also sent a link to the new trailer. Since today is Tuesday, thought I can bring back this old meme once more. Not to mention, giveaway!

Ways of entries (put all in one post):

Be a public follower [MANDATORY, without this done, you will not be eligible to win] +1
Tweet giveaway [link please] +1
Blog about the giveaway [link please] +2

This contest is opened until August 11th, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST and for US and Canadian mailing addresses only! If I don't get a reply from the winner within 24 hours, I will pick a new winner.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ai Ore! by Mayu Shinjo

Title: Ai Ore!
Mangaka: Mayu Shinjo
Age Group: Older Teens
Series is: Complete with 5 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1
My Rating: 2.5/5

Mizuki's boyish features have her as the prince at her all-girls school. She rocks the stage with her all-female band called Blaue Rosen. Akira is considered the princess of his all-boys school next door because of his feminine frame. Akira wants to join Mizuki's band when their singer moved away. Mizuki was against it as first but finally gave in. What is in hold for these two??

This took me quite awhile to get into. In the beginning, I was really annoyed by the fact that the girl looks like a guy and the guy looks like a girl. I have read mangas in the past where characters looked like the opposite gender (W Juliet), but I felt that in Ai Ore! it was a bit much. The mangaka could've at least toned it down a little. I would have preferred it if the characters looked like their gender but instead, have the girl dominate and guy submissive in the relationship. That would've been different than the usual manga plot lines that I have been seeing in the past 8 years in manga.

Midway through the manga, it was not so bad. The mangaka gave different situations for the characters to show their vulnerability and I got to see Mizuki more feminine and Akira more manly. [SPOILERS] However, everything went downhill for me towards the end. An upperclassman got really interested in Mizuki because she was so beautiful. So she nearly raped the Mizuki when their school was at a resort. Mizuki was luckily rescued, but later Akira sent one of his fans to rape the girl who was about to rape Mizuki. This I found to be absolutely ridiculous because the characters were only in first year of high school but they are doing such vile things. I would have forgiven this act a bit more if the characters were older and were not in high school. Except they were not. [SPOILERS END]

Unless you are a huge Mayu Shinjo fan, this manga could be skipped.

Review copy from Viz.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

My Monday Mailbox & Music Machine (July 18/11)

Mailbox


Review

Boyfriend from Hell by E. Van Lowe

Won

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer

Sorry that I don't update MMM&MM too frequently. It's just that since I'm winding down with my reviewing lately so I haven't request for any books lately.

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Music Machine

Title: Desert Rain
Artist/Band: Edward Maya ft. Vika Jigulina
Language: English
My Thoughts: LOVELOVELOVE

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