Notice for Review Requests

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

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

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Title: Z
Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 288
My Rating: 4.5/5

Josh loves to play a virtual reality zombie game where he is able to kill all the zombies to his heart content without actual having to die for real. When the top player, Charlie, comes out to Josh and asks him to join an underground gaming league with a more real experience, he couldn't resist.

At first, it was all fun and games. Until he realizes that there is something much bigger and sinister about the game he is playing.

I read this novel practically in one sitting at night until morning. It definitely grabbed my attention as a zombie fan and was something different than the usual zombie apocalypse. The story is set decades after a zombie breakout, with a few technological advancements from now. It's not completely removed from today but you still recognize it as the future.

The plot is definitely gripping and is somewhat predictable but not at the same time. It keeps you reading because you want to know what happens next every time. For my part, I was hoping for a zombie breakout.

There are a variety of characters who all played some sort of crucial role, minor or not. The game was like an addicting drug that the players could not get out of. And not to mention there is actually drugs involved that kept them around. There is a twist at the climax that changes the pace of the story, making it much more interesting.

The ending was a huge disappointment though. I don't want to spoil it but let's say it doesn't turn out as you hope for. If anything, I hope there is a sequel to clean up the mess at the end of this novel.

I highly recommend Z for any zombie fans out there!

Review copy provided by HarperCollins Canada.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Wild @ Heart by Natsumi Ando

Title: Wild @ Heart
Mangaka: Natsumi Ando
Age Group: Youth
Series is: Completed with 3 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1-3
My Rating: 2/5

Chino's father is an explorer who one day brought back a boy named Hyo from the jungle. Chino is shocked and doesn't like the idea of having a strange boy in her house at all! But things start to change when she spends more time with Hyo...

I generally like Natsumi Ando's works, but Wild @ Heart had me giving it a second thought.

You have this protagonist who hopes to one day fall in love and then out of nowhere, a cute guy starts living with her! From this, you can sort of see where the story is going. Unfortunately, it wasn't executed any better than it could have from an extremely cliche plot. The characters were dull, the plot was as bland as plain yogurt, and it didn't help that Ando's art style falls under the typical big-eyed shojo category. I barely remember what had happened in the series, in which Del Rey combined all 3 volumes in one.

I am so disappointed because I know the mangaka can do so much better than that. Some of her other series, like Arisa and Zodiac P.I., were done very well. I think she tried to do something different in Wild @ Heart by getting away from her usual mysteries. However, she fell short in her love story because there were a lack of sustenance.

This series isn't worth investing in. You can read it from the library first to get a sample before you buy if you want to.

Review copy provided by Del Rey.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Q4U: What book(s) to save during a fire?

Q4U (Question 4 U) is a feature on Stop, Drop, and Read! that likes to pop up on a random day. A question is asked for you to answer, where it could range from getting feedbacks for the blog to a start of a fun topic!

A few days ago while I was lying in bed, I was thinking of my book collection. Since I'm refurnishing my room (as you likely know; and yes, it is taking forever), my bookshelf might be removed from my room and be placed in the basement (oh noes!). And to be honest as I was thinking about it, I don't need this many books. Yes, I do love reading. But what are the chances of me re-reading ALL of them again? (Which is why hopefully in the future I will give away some ARCs I no longer want. Follow for future updates, hopefully. Lol.) I still have at least two full bookshelves that I haven't even touched yet.

So this question came to my mind:

What book or books would you save during a fire?

This is assuming that the rest of your collection will burn in peril. MUAHAHA! Ahem.

Mine would have to be Why I Let My Hair Grow Out series (a trilogy by Maryrose Wood) and Death Mill Mansion: A Lighthearted Comedy by Will Hartzell-Baird. That would be 4 books in total. They are simply the favourites that I enjoy very much and they have this unique humor that I can't get enough of. I like to laugh and be happy after all. :)

Now, if I had to save something from my manga collection...I would die. No doubt. I have a few favourite series but they consist of so many volumes! (For example, Ouran High School Host Club, which I have up to the 15th volume! And it's still not done yet!) I wouldn't even make it out of my room if I was to grab them all!

Obviously if this situation was really real, I wouldn't bother cause hey, life is short. But I'm speaking in the sense that you would likely escape (unless you try to horde 100 books out).

So when it comes to books, would you be able to grab one or two you really love before the house burns down?
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Grand Guignol Orchestra by Kaori Yuki

Title: Grand Guignol Orchestra
Mangaka: Kaori Yuki
Age Group: Older Teens
Series is: Completed with 5 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 2
My Rating: 4/5

Young Celestite, disguised as her dead brother Eles, is finally part of the unofficial orchestra as their pianist. After Lucille saved her, she decided to go traveling with him and his companions to fight the zombies called Guignols.

They encounter the official grand orchestra appointed by the Queen during their journey. They arrest Lucille, taking him and the team back to the palace under the Queen's order. Lucille's dark past slowly unveils and Eles may discover his true intentions of bringing her along...

This is one of Kaori Yuki's newest series in which I absolutely loved the first volume. So I was thrilled when I received the second volume to review.

For those who are familiar with The Cain Saga/Godchild series, you will see some similarities in Grand Guignol Orchestra. Lucille has a bad family history and has this curse of death that looms over him. Even though I see some repeats from Yuki's previous series, I would still like to see what else she has to offer through her new characters. There are definitely some differences in Cain (from The Cain Saga) and Lucille. Lucille has a more upbeat personality that masks over his past whereas Cain confronts with them more frequently.

The second volume introduces new characters, most of them from Lucille's past, who would reveal more about him in the long run. The ending left off at an interesting cliffhanger and I look forward to picking up the the third volume.

I do enjoy the world they are in. There are a lot of Victorian elements, which is not surprising because of Yuki's gothic obsession. It's fun to see some different things thrown in here and there. There seems to be a lot more humor in this series compared to the other ones that I have read by the mangaka. I think she tried to lighten the mood a bit in Grand Guignol Orchestra since most of her stories are very dark.

I think the second volume is worth picking up if you have tried the first and enjoyed it.

Review copy provided by Viz.
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Title: Give Up the Ghost
Author: Megan Crewe
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 256
My Rating: 5/5

Cass lost her older sister, Paige, to an accidental drowning a few years ago. However, her sister is not completely gone because she remains around as a ghost!

After the death of Paige, Cass developed the ability to see the dead who still lingered on Earth. Since she is a social outcast, her only friends are those unseen. They whisper secrets of the students in her school, giving her all the dirt. This gives her the upperhand.

Somehow, vice-president Tim managed to figure out that she has an ability like no other. He begs for her help in order to contact his dead mother. Reluctant, Cass agrees in return for gossip. Will she be able to get in contact with Tim's mother?

I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. Pulling out a random book from my TBR pile, I didn't have many expectations for Give Up the Ghost. I thought it was going to fall into similar stereotypical patterns that I see throughout most YA books dealing with the paranormal. Except it didn't and it gave me an excellent read instead.

I really do like Cass. Even though she is a loner, she does not have that sort of personality that would tick you off. I like the devilish side to her, where she would threaten the other students with what she knew about them. Since I'm tired of reading about innocent and bland protagonists, she was definitely a fresh character. I also loved how she didn't fall for Tim, even though he is attractive. In fact, their relationship never went to the level of romance throughout the novel. Instead, it takes a steady pace of getting the two to learn about each other at a more personal level. I found this extremely sweet.

I think Tim plays as an excellent protagonist's opposite, too. Yes, he is a brooding male, but he has a realistic reason to be. He doesn't fall for Cass either, where he would always be by her side at all times because he can't get enough of her. Rather, he comes around to have her contact his mother. They both somewhat use each other in this novel, giving a different concept from the usual YA.

The plot was not some insane ghost action with obsessive romance to the side. Rather, it is a realistic story that touches on human emotions, fears, and faults. It gives a perfect dose of drama without going overboard.

I think the story ended very nicely and made a satisfying standalone. I definitely recommend Give Up the Ghost. It's a novel anyone can connect to.

Won copy from Princess Bookie.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If I was to...

give away my YA ARCs for free, would you pay for the shipping?

As you probably know, I am refurnishing my room and I'm trying to make some more space. I have a LOT of books that I accumulated over the years as a reviewer and book addict since I was little. I'm attempting to sell some books but it is a flop so far.

Anyway, I have a bunch of ARCs that I no longer want. I am willing to give them away for FREE. So for those who cannot pick them up locally in Toronto, would you pay for the shipping?

I'm not going to put up the list for awhile because I am quite busy at the moment and I have a lot of books to sort through. I just want to get the general survey to see if people would pay for shipping or not because I don't want to end up posting this gigantic list and no one wants the books.

I also want to know if there is anyone here that lives in Toronto or near Toronto (I'm actually situated in Vaughan but I go to university downtown)? If so, are you willing to meet up with me to get the free books? (You can have a friend get them for you if you live elsewhere).

Please let me know in the comments! :)
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith

Title: Solitary
Author: Alexander Gordon Smith
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 272
My Rating: 4/5

Note: Spoilers for those who haven't read the first volume, Lockdown, yet.

From the previous novel, Alex manages to blow a hole in one of the Furnace's walls. Soon, he will escape from the prison of hell. Except only to find there are more horrors that await him in the darkness.

If you have read my review for the first novel, Lockdown, you can assume that I was excited to try out the sequel. After being left at a cliffhanger, I was dying to know what was going to happen next.

However, this being a trilogy, the protagonist wasn't allowed an easy and sweet escape that early. Instead, he and his fellow inmates that were trying to get out with him were caught. Alex and his friend Zee were shoved into a hole where they were going to be locked up in the dark for a month. With Alex being stuck there for most of the time, the plot definitely slowed down from the first volume. There was just so much that one could do when one couldn't do anything at all! Luckily, the author didn't leave his character sitting around all day, which was good. However, I didn't feel the same excitement I had for Lockdown. There was a lot more freaky drama and tension, whereas this volume focused a lot more on escaping. There was an introduction to a likely plot twist because there was a new anonymous character introduced.

I was glad that Alex was not the one to give up. Even though he wasn't a good kid, he sure didn't deserve to be in the Furnace. I want to check out the last volume to see what will happen in the end. I cross my fingers for him.

Review copy provided by Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden by Yuu Watase

Title: Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden
Mangaka: Yuu Watase
Age Group: Older Teens
Series is: Ongoing with 9 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1-2
My Rating: 4/5

In 1923, Takiko Okuda is angry at her father for being away so long while her mother is ill. When he came back, he brought along the text of "The Universe of the Four Gods", which he is translating. Working feverishly to finish the translation, his wife died during the meantime. Angry, Takiko attempts to rip his book apart, only to get sucked into it! Waking up in another realm, she turns out to be the Priestess of Genbu. In order to return to her own world, she must find the seven Celestial Warriors so the god Genbu could be summoned to save the country at war. Will she be able to complete her journey and go back to her own world?

Older manga and anime fans would likely have heard of Fushigi Yugi (the original series that the mangaka worked on during the 90s). Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden is the prequel to it (even though it is created 14 years after). One would be quick to recognize Yuu Watase's style, in art and writing. Her art has changed quite over the years and I definitely prefer her current style. It is more sharp and concise, compared to nearly two decades ago.

I think Takiko is a better protagonist compared to Miaka (Fushigi Yugi's protagonist). She has a sense of pride and handles her problems much better in comparison. She knows how to fight and is willing to defend herself, rather than waiting for someone to save her. Uruki is the first person who she encounters after she entered this new world. Uruki has the ability to become a woman with his powers, so it sure shocked the hell out of Takiko! He does have an interesting background that leads him to where he is today though.

The second volume doesn't hesitate to introduce a new wave of characters, not slowing down on the action for one bit. You can tell the characters are parallel to Fushigi Yugi's characters by the role they play (ex. villain) and their distinct personalities and quirks.

So far, I enjoyed the first two volumes of Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden. I highly recommend this one to be a read for Yuu Watase's fans. Be sure to check it out even if you are not familiar with the mangaka's works. Even if you haven't read the original series, you wouldn't be confused going into Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden because the stories are unrelated to each other except for the main plot idea.

Bookmooched copies from Rachel.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Sale Update (Toronto Only)

If you saw my post from a few days ago, I'm selling a bunch of my books. I'm doing this locally in Toronto, Canada, because it costs way too much to ship. If you have friends or relatives in Toronto, you can have them buy it for you and they can ship it over or if they come visit you, they'll bring it with them.

Today, I managed to pull out a bunch of unwanted books. I took pictures so you can see what I am selling. This post does not include manga. Hopefully I will get to that soon. You can see the manga titles I'm selling by clicking here.

I don't have time at the moment to list all the titles so hopefully you are able to read the spines. Click to enlarge.

Please send offers to faked_sugartone at hotmail. I happened to buy a bus pass so I will be able to meet up anywhere in Toronto (but hopefully by the subway stations if possible). Cash only.

Most books are in good condition. Some perfect. Feel free to ask if you have concerns or questions.

YA Arcs

YA Hardcovers (except ghostgirl: Homecoming, arc)

YA Paperbacks

Children Books

Adult Hardcovers and Paperbacks

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Download Dreaming Anastasia Free!

I received an announcement that the ebook version of Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble can be downloaded for free! I believe today is the only day you can get it free, so hurry! It can be downloaded anywhere that ebooks are sold online.

If you want to win the sequel, Haunted, tweet about the free ebook and have a link to your favourite ebook store online where you downloaded the ebook. Do this by the end of today with #haunted hashtag.

Happy reading!

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