Friday, August 13, 2010

BR: Sunflowers and Seashells

Okay, this is a sort of cheating review. Why? Sunflowers and Seashells hasn't come out yet. And probably won't for a while.

So why am I talking about it?


Yes, I'm exploiting my website for a moment, so sorry. A few months ago, I was talking to my Grandma of all people, and she told me about a poetry contest. So, thinking that some of my stuff from my creative writing class my senior year of high school were pretty entertaining, I sent two in, because it said that with every entry, they'd send back commentary on it.

Well, I got a bit more than commentary. Actually, I haven't gotten the commentary yet. So why am I excited? I got a letter today saying my poem got to the semi-finals! Heck yeah! And, along with being a semi-finalist, my poem is going to be published in Sunflowers and Seashells, an anthology, or "volume of contemporary poetry," that will be available as worldwide online retail bookstores (,, etc).

So, even though I still consider myself a rather terrible poet, I'm about to be published! Woohoo!

(On another note, I am working on some REAL reviews of some legitamite books. I just got pretty excited, and since I consider this my "all things literature" blog, well, I thought I'd share my enthusiasm somewhere. Thanks for your time. I appreciate your patience as I gloat.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

BR: Bad Girls Don't Die, Katie Alender

Bad Girls Don't Die
Katie Alender

A new favorite!

What You Need To Know: Alexis doesn’t have many friends at school, considering her mildly bad attitude, so she has a good relationship with her younger sister, Kasey. They live with their unassertive parents in a creepy old house that, unbeknownst to them, has a long history. A hundred years ago, some psychopath ten-year-old girl was tormented by the girls in town and was accidentally killed. Now, that girl’s ghost is haunting them and possessing Alexis’s little sister, and she’s out to get all the ancestors of the girls that tormented her so many years ago. Alexis finds help in odd places-- the head cheerleader at school she suddenly has so much in common with, and the ASB vice president she accidentally helped get elected-- and as she helps her little sister and her new friends, she figures out that she doesn’t have to pretend to be someone she’s not, and that not everyone is really pretending either.

The cover has an uber-creepiness factor that didn’t completely play out in the book, which kind of disappointed me. I mean, I liked the book a lot. It just wasn’t the exact same book the picture on the front advertised. But then again, that tends to happen a lot. I guess I really shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover… but sometimes it works. Ish.

But the voice was strong, the characters were interesting, and the creepiness with Kasey vs. Sarah (who is using the body at the moment?) was pretty easy to follow. The story wasn’t ridiculously complex, but did have quite a few elements to it. Overall, I enjoyed it. Wasn’t a scare-the-pants-off-of-you scary, but was a good ghost story. And the writing style was very enjoyable- Alexis was a fun character to follow, and she wasn’t stupid or weak like a lot of our heroines are these days.

Katie Alender: props for a strong, interesting heroine.

BR: Dark Flame, Alyson Noel

Dark Flame is the forth book in the Immortal Series by Alyson Noel. And, unfortunately, not the last one. Apparently the fifth (and hopefully final?) book, Night Star, is due out in Winter 2010.

Okay, can I just say that I am beyond mad that it didn’t end here, with Dark Flame? I've been a follower of the Immortal Series from the beginning, and I waited a year for this next installment, thinking it would be the end. But guess what? It wasn't. Dang.

Previously in the Immortal Series: After the accident that claimed her families life, Ever Bloom was made immortal by Damen, the original immortal. Ever and Damen fall in love and struggle through all sorts of strange situations and curses brought on by "Rogue Immortals:" Damen's deadly immortal enemies. (Yes, I know that's an oxymoron. Turns out you can destroy and immortal. Who would have thought?)

What you need to know (about Dark Flame): Ever's best friend Haven has just been made immortal, is totally drunk on the possibilites, and deciding to date Roman and hate Ever and Damen because they try to keep her safe. Damen and Ever still can't touch, and Ever's still pissed and convinces she can get Roman to hand over the anecdote to make the whole problem go away so she and Damen can have happily ever after, and after, and after... But due to a haywire spell she cast, she's now bound to Roman. Meaning? She's suddenly lusting after him with this part she refers to as "the monster" shadow-self inside of her. Jude is still on the scene, he's still in love with Ever, and is surprisingly NOT a rouge immortal, or any immortal. And he's trying to help her reverse the spell and make things right again, while Ever is still drawn (against her will) to her worst nightmare, Roman. This causes Haven to get super immortal-girl-fight pissy. Ever eventually finds a way to break the curse, after some very scary run-ins with Roman, and is JUST about to get the anecdote and finally end the series and have the happily ever after I was looking for... when Jude RUINS IT ALL. Roman's gone, the anecdote, which he was handing over, is smashed, and all hope for Ever and Dame getting together is O-V-E-R. Haven is completely lunitic and has officially called war between them.

There’s some interesting details, some fun characters, and of course, a sexy, gorgeous immortal boyfriend of all perfection. Then there’s the ghost of her twelve-year-old sister who isn’t forbidding or whatever you think a ghost might be; a fortuneteller who Ever goes from hating to needing to hating to distrusting to wanting to kill to needing help from over and over again; a remarkable place called “Shadowland” where anything is possible; buttloads of manifested red tulips; one hot surfer dude; vengeful drama queen high school girls; thirteen year old twins that worship Damen and hate Ever that they suddenly become the guardians of; and lots of angst.

It went too fast in some areas, and lingered a bit in some conversations and ideas that should have been summed up faster. In the series as a whole, there were a lot of abstract concepts added that were kind of hard to grasp, and there were just a ton of them. I got tired of the meditations and visualizations and the “imagining myself immersed in a cone of brilliant, cleansing, healing white light"s. And I don’t know, but Ever’s got to have the strongest shoulders of anyone on the planet, because she shrugs multiple times a page. There is always shrugging, in every book.

Still, I liked it. Ever can be totally stupid sometimes and you want to rip her hair out because she’s being childish or not judging right or just being stupid, or all three plus more. I was losing interest around Shadowland (book three), tired of everything going wrong and Ever just making it worse by not telling Damen that she screwed up and making everything a million times worse, but Dark Flame caught my attention again. The ending was unexpected, character roles shifted in a way I didn’t expect, and suddenly I’m interested to see where Alyson Noel takes it, and if she can wrap it up in one more book, because if she doesn’t... she better not think that I’m going to just be a nice, obedient reader and just take it. Because if she does think that, then she’s got another think coming, let me tell you that. I WLL NOT BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF!

Okay. Maybe. I just want it to be over so I can ponder upon the story as a whole.

Hopefully… Winter, 2010, with Night Star… it will be my overall review of the entire series. PLEASE, LET IT BE OVER!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guess Who Won The Versatile Blogger Award?

"When you recieve this awesome award all you do is share 7 things about yourself, pass on this award along to another 15 deserving blogs."

Thanks to for giving me the award. D'awwww :) It still freaks me out that people actually read this stuff! Right on, folks!

My seven things:

1. I'm 19, and so far, every semester I've been in a new state, living with a new relative (or awesome roommates that are close enough that I consider my hand-picked family) at a new college. Huh.

2. Last week, I laid out on a back country road with two of my old friends and looked at the stars (it happens to be a secret favorite hobby of mine). I am now covered in bug bites. I regret nothing.

3. I always type. Always. Due to health issues, my hands shake slightly so my handwiritng sucks beyond measure. It also makes me write super slow and my mind goes on without my hand catching up. School was a beast.

4. Someone once told me I "bleed creativity from my ears." Best. Compliment. Ever.

5. I'm about as white-girl Wonderbread as it comes. I'm "a'ight" though, as it has been said. Sweet beans, man.

6. I loathe blow drying my hair. Loathe it. No partiuclar reason why. I just do.

7. I often run into doors, walls, and other free-standing furniture. This is because I often walk around at night thinking, "Nah, I know my way around the bathroom, I don't need to turn the lights on," but then I get groovin' to whatever song is currently playing in my mind and BOOM! Collision.

So, here's the deal. I'm only now discovering the blogging community... soooo... I don't know fifteen blogs to nominante. Lame, right? Sorry. So, instead, I'm nominating anyone who reads this! Yeah, you! Guess what, I just gave you the Versatile Blogger Award! Ha! Go spread the love, man. Thanks for wasting your time away with me :)

BR: The Boyfriend List; The Boy Book; The Treasure Map of Boys

The Boyfriend List; The Boy Book; The Treasure Map of Boys
by E. Lockhart.

If you’re going to read about teen boy drama, these stories of one Ruby Oliver is the way to do it. Not only do you have the friends crushing on the same boys, backstabbing, boyrfriend stealing, scamming, ex-friends and mean stuff written on the bathroom door, it’s all done in a hilarious and comprehensive way that will get you laughing time and time again.

What you need to know: In The Boyfriend List, Ruby Oliver is starting to suffer panic attacks after her best friend steals her boyfriend, so her mom sends her to a shrink. When she makes a list of all the boys she’s ever crushed on, it somehow gets Xeroxed and given around school, and she deals with becoming a school leper. In The Boy Book, it’s the next year, and although she has a reputation as the school slut, Roo’s Chemistry partner (Noel, and yes, he’s a boy) doesn’t care and they become close through ridiculous and hilarious notes passed back an forth. But when things heat up with Noel, Roo tries to do the right and backs off in the name of being a good friend. In The Treasure Map of Boys, Roo’s a huge mess of boys, flirts, and one messy bakesale trying to make everything right and keep the friends she has.

But Roo’s not just your ordinary girl. Roo’s a girl with bright orange bras and vintage clothes with great legs she often wraps in fishnets; works at an internship at the zoo, where she’s good friends with the farm animals named after particularly gruesome historical figures; lives with her crazy raw-food diet mother and rare-bloom gardening dad on a houseboat in Seattle; sometimes lacks a brain filter and says things ways she doesn’t always like; sees a shrink with ridiculously hideous ponchos; throws a mean bakesale; is the Missions Director for the Hooter Rescue Squad (a collaboration with Noel to retrieve and destroy pictures of Roo’s ex-friends' boobs and eat Fruit Roll-Ups: mission, successful!); and tends to get over her head sometimes.

Roo’s got a spankin’ sense of humor and is the kind of friend you’d want to have around just to see the irony in the mundane things. She’s fiesty and a perfect voice for these stories.

It’s not just Roo who’s cool in these books. The writing style is amazing. Lockhart throws in footnotes whenever Roo wants to expand on a subject, like explaining a new word she’s made up and why, or to talk about movies and other random things. In each book, each chapter begins with some awesome tidbit of something:

In The Boyfriend List, you read snippets of the actual boyfriend lists. With every boy comes an excuse like (but he didn't count) or (but it was just one kiss) or (but it was only from afar).

In the Boy Book, you get excerts from the Boy Book, (A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them), including:
-Neanderthals on the Telephone: Or, How to Converse
-Clever Comebacks to Catcalls
-and The Care and Ownership of Boobs

In The Treasure Map of Boys, it’s random notes and lists Roo’s made… chapters including:
-I Fixate on a Poncho
-I Receive a Frog Laden with Meaning
-I Correspond with a Pygmy Goat
-I Choke on Ninja Deliciousness

Again, if you’re going to read about high school drama, pick Ruby Oliver to tell you her stories (written by E. Lockhart)! These are undisputably some of my favorite books  of the Young Adult variety (what other variety is there?). Suddenly I find myself being much more witty than normal after I've read Ruby's stories.... hmm... Wittiness is always appreciated.

Hey, Roo friends! Guess what! Ruby Oliver's making a comeback in Real Live Boyfriends, out this December 28th! Check out (E. Lockharts blog) for updates and contests. She's a silly one, I'll say.

E. Lockhart: Props for bringing ironic, witty, and down-right hilarious Ruby to life!

Monday, August 2, 2010

BR: Pretty Monsters, Kelly Link

Pretty Monsters, Kelly Link.

I really don’t know what to say.

What you need to know: Pretty Monsters is a collection of short stories. Really, really funky short stories.

What I can’t figure out is: where they made to not make sense on purpose, and that’s why everyone calls them “dazzling” and “genius”? Or am I really stupid and just can’t figure them out?
It’s one of those books that, understanding it or not, you put down when it’s finished, stare blankly at nothing for a moment, then ask, “Where did that COME from?”

I still can’t decide if I loved it or hated it. I think I hated it. But I never stopped reading it. It took me almost a week, but I kept coming back. And that’s something, isn’t it? I guess I just wanted to keep reading to see if it was going to eventually make sense, if I was going to understand all the raving reviews, or if it was going to be absolute chaos to the absolute end. Whether any of it makes sense or not (some made more sense than others, and some lacked more sense than others), it was absolute chaos.

I picked it up because the cover is pretty and I liked the design. I kept holding it because “Flat-out genius;” “dazzling;” and “Intoxicating” were on the front cover. I flipped it over because I wanted to know what the story was about. I opened it because the back only had more reviews, and I opened it to find even MORE dazzling reviews, only designed to also be very pretty and unusual. I bought the book because the inside front cover says

A phone booth in Las Vegas


Unhelpful wizards

Possibly carnivorous sofas

A handbag with a village inside of it

Tennessee Fainting Goats

Dueling librarians

A statue of George Washington

A boy named Onion


An undead babysitter

A nationally raked soccer player

Evil Cinderella


An unexpected campfire guest."
And, again, it was pretty, in a silly and creepy way.

These stories were just so… strange. Not just because the subject matter was strange, because it was, but because they don’t have much of a point, and they don’t really end, they just stop, and… they are just strange. Very, very strange.

Some of the ideas were really cool. I really liked the TV show, “the Librarian” even though I can’t decide if it was real or not, and what the heck Jeremy and his friends had anything to do with it in “Magic for Beginners.” I liked Gloria, the dead girl that was unburied and refused to stay in her grave and made a new life for herself. I liked how Onion and Halsa could project themselves in “The Wizards of Perfil.” The “Faery Handbag” overall was awesome. I liked the camp-lore of “Monster.” “The Surfer” was interesting and probably the least weird, with the hippies all waiting in quarantine for the aliens to come back while Dorn worried about becoming a soccer star. “The Constable of Abal” was pretty sweet, and I especially liked how Zilla and Ozma kept ghost on ribbons and toted them around with them. And the “Cinderella Game” just didn’t tickle me. Neither did “The Specialist Hat.” But “Pretty Monsters;” I didn’t understand why it was a three-part story. Just because?

I think that is how to best explain away this book’s existence: JUST BECAUSE LINK COULD.

And that is that.