Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Hunger Games leave me, well, hungry for more.

The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, was the strongest young adult book I have read in a long time. The character development was excellent, while in no way lacking in the plot. Many of the characters were different then typically seen and expected-- and I liked them! The main character, Katniss, would in few ways be considered friendly or even nice, but she somehow managed to maintain her likability as a character thanks to her fierce strength (physical as well as emotional) and protection over her little sister, Prim. Being strong did not come as a choice to Katniss. Ever since her father died and her mom stopped providing for their now-smaller family, Katniss was the one who had see to it that they did not starve, as many did people of her time. Ever since the districts of Panem tried (and failed) to rebel against the capital, life had been full of hardships for many of its citizens, especially those farthest from the Capital. And if allowing its people to starve on a daily basis isn’t bad enough, every year a teenage boy and girl from each district is chosen lottery style to represent their district in the Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games is grim reality show, which requires all of the tributes to kill each other off in order to be the last tribute standing, and be allowed to go home. So when little Prim's name is called to be a contestant, Katniss hardly has to has to think twice before she frantically volunteers to go in her sister's place. Although Katniss never regrets her decision, she can't stop herself from feeling a pang of pain when she finds her fellow district tribute is Peeta, a boy she hardly knows yet has a complicated relationship with none-the-less.
Overall The Hunger Games is a thought-provoking, action-packed novel. But don’t be too surprised when a story of forbidden-love, tentatively begins to take shape.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If you liked Twilight, or even if you didn't....

Before reading Blood and Chocolate, I thought Twilight was pretty cool. After, I wondered how I even read through the whole thing! Blood and Chocolate has far more edge-of-your-seat action as well as a stronger edginess to it.

One of my favorite things about the book is, instead of the classic/ cliched, average-helpless-girl-falls-for-dangerous-mysterious-boy, it is the human boy, Aiden, that falls for a vicious werewolf girl, Vivian. Some may not appreciate her arrogance. I think it was an important way of displaying her strength and dominance. At least she has a personality, unlike a certain “perfect” vampire. I also found Aiden to be a much more believable character, than Bella.

The whole story was much more realistic, while a bit frustrating at times. You will probably either love or hate the twisty conclusion, I personally loved it. In my opinion this book is only missing one thing-- a sequel!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Story.... What can happen when books are banned

There once was a boy named Johnny Lee. Johnny Lee was your average ninth grader, trying to find himself, though still very impressionable, and lacking in the area of worldly wisdom. Johnny Lee liked high school alright so far and it helped that his 18-year-old brother Clay was there, if needed.

During one seemingly normal English class, his teacher announced that the next book they would read had some adult material, but she thought it was important that they read it. The book was called Crank. Johnny Lee's teacher further explained that it was about a girl that got hooked on, you guessed it, crank. This got Johnny Lee thinking. Just like all the other kids, he had attended the assemblies and seen the videos that pleaded the students “just say no to drugs”. Sure he saw some gruesome footage of the addicts but there had to be a missing link. Why would anyone start if they would only go crazy and live in pain? Either they left out some major details or it was simply acting and that stuff didn't really happen.

Over the next week, Johnny Lee could not get his mind off the subject and it certainly didn't help that his teacher informed his class that they would no longer be reading Crank on account of it currently being challenged and would likely be banned because of the controversial material. Johnny Lee overheard a few of the token smart kids discussing how they were going to order the book online to cure their curiosity. Johnny Lee was curious all right, though not necessarily about the the book itself. What he really wanted was someone he confide in about his confusion towards drugs.

Later that afternoon when Johnny Lee came home, he was happy to see that Clay's friend Buster was over. Buster had been Clay's friend since middle school and was Clay's only close friend that really payed talked to Johnny Lee, and his attention made him feel special. This made Buster very cool in Johnny Lee's eyes, so naturally he had always looked up to Buster and truly believed that he knew everything. Johnny Lee decided to share his confusion about drugs with the older boy. A sly smile came over Buster's face when Johny Lee brought up the topic of drugs. Buster told him that they were “freaking incredible” and “Just look at me, I'm happy as calm and healthy as a horse.” Johnny Lee felt relieved that he finally got the “truth” on drugs and was glad he didn't need a book to do so.

Six weeks later, Johny Lee gets high whenever he gets the chance. He has all failing grades and gave up his dream of starting on the football team. It makes you wonder what could have happened if he was able to be educated on this “too scandalous for the classroom” material....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mad interview with Suzanne Young

Suzanne Young is the author of The Naughty List, coming out in February 2010. You can learn more about Suzanne at

(1) Can you relate to any of the characters or situations in The Naughty list?

I definitely relate to Tessa. I had to really get inside her head when I was writing the book and I’ll tell you, she is a fun girl. And her boyfriend, he’s not half bad.

2) Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

I’ve written about a dozen novels. I love The Naughty List and other than that, I have a few that I’m fond of. One of my older books is Delinquents—totally different than TNL. I tend to write serious books when I’m not working on The Naughty List series.

3) Who is someone that inspires you? And why?

My grandmother always inspired me. She believed I could do seemingly impossible things and never let me give up. My books are all dedicated to her memory.

4) What is your favorite book that you have read? Why?

Gosh, it’s hard to decide a favorite book. Some of my favorites include: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Bluest Eye and Looking for Alaska. A book usually has to really grab me if I’m going to finish it. I just have so many to get through. My to-be-read pile is a mountain right now.

5) Are there any certain experiences that give you ideas for your novels? Such as your daughters “soap opera's”?

I sometimes will hear a word or a sentence and then it starts my brain going. The other day someone was telling me a story and a phrase really stuck out to me. Immediately my brain twisted that sentence into a YA story that had nothing really to do with her story. Ha ha. But my ideas almost always comes from something random I hear.

6) If you were animal what kind would you be?

I want to say something cool, but really, I think I’d want to live in the forest or somewhere isolated. Maybe I’d be a bear because I’d get to sleep through winter and I REALLY don’t like being cold.

7) Can you see your daughter one day starting an undercover cheer squad? What do you see your son being like in high school?

My daughter is something to fear. I’m pretty sure no one will be cheating on her. Lol. My son is going to be great. He’s really into reading and writing. Sort of like me—but hopefully he’ll end up a little cooler.

8) Do you have any pets?

Oh, God, yes. I have a sweet older dog named Murdock. He’s sort of dumb, but we like him like that. Then I have a devil spawn named Basil. She’s a Basset Hound and the most troublesome dog ever. She spends her days torturing me. It’s her mission.

9) How long does it usually take you to write a book?

It depends. Usually I write a rough draft in 6-8 weeks and then spend a few more revising. It really just depends on the project.

10) Is there any thing else that smoothes along your writing process? I.e hot cocoa, nearby dog available to pet periodically?

Snacks. I love Reese’s Pieces. And my friends help keep me sane too. Other than that, I just need a little peace and quiet (which doesn’t happen that often) but when it does, I plow through the books.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

5 0ut 5 Musical Notes ♥

     Her whole life, Remy has been very realistic when it comes to relationships.  Whether it came from a father she never met, but was constantly, painfully reminded of by way of the hit song he wrote for her the day she was born; or maybe it’s her mom’s five failed marriages. Whatever the cause, Remy is always careful to keep her many boyfriends at arm’s length.  Her best friends even rely on her to be strong in these situations when they can’t.  Then along comes Dexter.  Dexter is almost the epitome of the type of guy she doesn’t date.  He’s messy, spontaneous and most importantly a musician.  Remy has long since held a rule strictly prohibiting musicians.  Although of course it’s fate that they fall for each other, but will Remy be strong or weak enough (depending how you look at it), to finally hold him close in every sense?  

    Dessen has been know for her strong, dynamic characters and those in This Lullaby were no exception!  Although they all had their various flaws, they were extremely well-developed and believable; you're sure to find at least one you can relate on some level.  There were a fair amount of people who even felt that Remy was too flawed, but I believe that it was absolutely necessary to the story and her character. The characters were so well done I couldn't help but to feel for them and the man-caused pain they were experiencing.  There were also times when I dearly wished I could yell at ole Remy; of course I couldn't.  In the end she did indeed make me proud and I put the book down feeling pleased and do I dare say even inspired?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Exclusive Interview With Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah Moskowitz is an 18- year-old young adult author. Her novel Break comes out on August 25. It has been compared to Fight Club by Booklist.

What do you make your readers to get out of BREAK?
I LOVE the idea of novels with classic YA problems--self-injury, in this case--that aren't problem novels. BREAK isn't a self-injury novel. It's a book with self-injury done in a new way. I want to take things we're all familiar with and switch them up. If I want a reader to think one thing after reading BREAK, it's that social issues are not one-dimensional. There is no definition for what it means to be sick, or hurt, or broken. Jonah isn't your stereotypical self-injurer.

Do you have a favorite work that you’ve written?
Yes, and it looks like no one will ever see it. ;) Maybe in a few years.

What are you looking forward to most about going to Brown?
I went to a very small school from second to twelfth grade, so I'm excited to be around people who don't know me. It's been a long time since I had the opportunity to make a first impression. I've changed a lot in the past few years, and I think a fresh start will give me the chance to embrace that.

Is there anything you are going to miss about high school? If so, what?
I'll miss a few friends, and living with my parents, but...I can't think of anything about high school specifically I'm going to miss. Writing about high school just reminds me how much I hated it! And I went to a great school, with great teachers, but...ugh, I just couldn't stand it.

Why do you like cats? How many do you have? Can you tell us about the adorable cat in the ARC picture on your blog?
I have six cats! I've had them ever since I was a baby. I guess that's why I like them so much. I grew up with them, so they're like family members. Even the ones who aren't mine
The picture on my blog is of Wednesday, my friend Grace's cat. She is absolutely precious, I know. Grace bought one of my ARCs online and sent that picture to me. I actually have a picture of my Lola cat with my ARC but...I can't find it.

What makes BREAK different from other books?
I think BREAK has a balance of humor and drama that a lot of YA books don't have. I'd consider BREAK a comedy, but it's very dark--it's definitely not your typical beach read. It's also pretty graphic; I didn't notice it myself too much, but I've had a lot of people comment that it freaks them out.
One of my motivations behind writing BREAK was that, after writing a different book about the tension between two brothers, I wanted to write one where the brothers got along. Jesse and Jonah have a lot of drama in BREAK, but they're best friends and have no problem letting each other know.

Lovely... I'm not so sure.

I definitely have to love the unique perspective and the general concept of Susie Salmon’s story. That being said, there were plenty of things I didn’t love. While the first chapter where Susie is raped and murdered, along with the following 10 pages or so, were certainly fast-paced, the rest of the book didn’t contain near the amount of excitement I was expecting. Up in her personal heaven, Susie watches the lives of those who held importance to her. This is the whole story( not much of a plot). Initially I thought this sounded very interesting. However few of the characters were overly likeable and I only felt a connection to one or two of them. Susie’s dad quickly figures out who the murderer is. Sadly, due to lack of evidence the police are unable to take action. His own wife doesn’t believe him, and this may be due to her fondness of the detective assigned to the case. Susie’s dad and a wacky acquaintance of Susie’s are the only ones who openly grieve throughout the book. All of the many other people she followed, with the exception of her murderer, seemed very unimportant to me. There were many wonderful metaphors and descriptive phases; unfortunately none of which a fourteen-year-old with average intelligence would ever think to use. I kept pushing through the book, just knowing there had to be a breath-taking ending, but it was not at all what I had hoped for. Overall I put the book down feeling a great deal of dissatisfaction. I had heard so many great things about this novel, and my expectations were sky high, so this could account for some of my disappointment.