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, 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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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!

Entries: (separate comment per entry)
+1 Public GFC follower (MANDATORY)
+1 Tweet, leave link
+2 Blog post, leave 2 separate comments for this entry

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!

+1 Be a public GFC follower, I will check! (MANDATORY)
+1 Tweet, leave link
+ 2 Blog about giveaway, leave link (separate entries)

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

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