Sunday, February 20, 2011

On Vacation

Hi all!

I just want to thank all of you for being super awesome followers. Unfortunately, I'm going to be backpacking through Europe for an indefinite amount of time, which means that I won't be able to update anymore! When I come back, I will resume blogging. Until then:

Happy gaming!

Monday, February 14, 2011

One Hundred Candles Review

Author: Mara Purnhagen
Publisher: Harlequin
Pub Date: February 22, 2011
Paperback: 240 pages  
Source: ARC (Thanks NetGalley!)
For Challenge: A-Z Reading Challenge
Summary: (Taken from Goodreads)

It's taken a long time for me to feel like a normal teenager. But now that I'm settled in a new school, where people know me as more than Charlotte Silver of the infamous Silver family paranormal investigators, it feels like everything is falling into place. And what better way to be normal than to go on a date with a popular football star like Harris Abbott? After all, it's not as if Noah is anything more than a friend….But my new life takes a disturbing turn when Harris brings me to a party and we play a game called One Hundred Candles. It seems like harmless, ghostly fun. Until spirits unleashed by the game start showing up at school. Now my friends and family are in very real danger, and the door that I've opened into another realm may yield deadly consequences.

I thought this story was interesting and creative, and I really enjoyed it. Charlotte certainly has a different life, and I liked seeing just how much her life revolved around the supernatural due to her parents’ job. The pacing of the book was perfect – it didn’t drag at all, and I was pulled in at all the right moments. I also enjoyed how Purnhagen pulls together the supernatural and the realistic. Adding the extra elements of protective crystals, candles, and ceremonies really made it stand out for me. Although this seems like stuff that would seem to be in all supernatural stories, I have found it in very few. 

It’s also a great stand-alone book, even though it was the second in the series. I was able to catch on quickly as to what was going on and wasn’t confused as to who the characters were. However, I think that if I had read the first book, I’d have had a stronger connection with the characters, which would have been nice.

As I said, I really enjoyed the story, but the writing was a little too simplistic for me. The characters are very black-and-white and predictable. The main character says everything that’s going on in her mind in a very simple, direct manner. I think it’s a classic example of the writer “telling” rather than “showing.” Instead of showing that the main character was worried or sad by having her do something or act a certain way, she directly stated, “I am worried.” It makes the story less interesting to read, and definitely made me feel distanced from the characters, because I wasn’t interacting with them as much.

I thought the climax and ending was wonderfully done. By the time I got to the high point of the novel, I couldn’t put it down – I had to finish.

I would rate this at 3.5 stars, but it has a cool cover, so I’m bumping it up.

My rating:

Happy gaming!

PS Sorry I haven't been updating as much as I used to. School just got REALLY busy for me. Thanks for being such great followers! :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Who Is Saint Giovanni?" Event

Have you heard the news?

If you haven't, are you ready for it?

Rane, one of my friends and co-bloggers over at The Lit Express, is hosting an epic event. She has decided to post one of her novels online.  

This is how it will work:

Beginning on April 11, 2011, she will post weekly installments of the novel on the "Who Is Saint Giovanni?" Blog. (A rough draft of Saint Giovanni is pictured to the left.) After a year, the entire novel will be posted online. That's right folks, she's going old school on this. Ever wondered how they read novels in Victorian England? This is it. Well, except the installments were posted in newspapers rather than blogs. But you get the point.

Every installment will include an illustration drawn by a fabulous artist who has agreed to collaborate with Rane.

Every installment will also be available in vlog and podcast format.

Rane is SUPER EXCITED about this guys, and so are all of us at The Lit Express, so I hope you'll join her. And wait! There's more! You can win stuff from this, as well! (See below.)

Okay, so are you sufficiently interested? Check out this link to read the summary. I hope you'll join us!


1. Sign up for a chance to win an advanced reader copy
(5-10 people will be chosen by out of the whole blogging community)

One winner will receive a $15 dollar gift certificate to amazon or book depository

2. Post about this event on your blog

One winner will receive a $15 dollar gift certificate to amazon or book depository

3. Host a button on your page

One winner will receive a $15 dollar gift certificate to amazon or book depository


Every person who signs up for any or all of the options above will have a chance to win...their very own...Kindle Graphite 6" (or another model, or nook, of equal or lesser value). The more areas of participation you sign up for, the more chances you have of winning!

*The first round of winners will be announced within the first 4 weeks after this event begins (4/11/11). But the participation is ongoing until the very end of the event (4/12/11), which means there will be multiple drawings. Rane has the right to decide when those drawings will be held and what the next round of prizes will be.

**The Grand Prize winner will be chosen after the blog event is over (4/12/12). The winner will be chosen from everyone who participated. Winner will be chosen using

Thirteen Reasons Why Review

Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Listening Library
Narrator: Joel Johnstone, Debra Wiseman
Duration: 6 hours 24 minutes
For Challenges: A-Z Reading Challenge, Whisper Stories in My Ear, 2011 Audiobook Challenge

Summary: (Taken from Goodreads)
Jay Asher's brilliant first novel is a moving, highly original story that focuses on a set of audiotapes made by a girl before she committed suicide, and which explain to 13 people the reasons why she decided to end her life. Told in a highly effective duel narrative -- alternating between the girl s voice and the thoughts of a boy who is listening -- this honest, poignant story reveals how other people's actions shape, and by extension can ruin, an individual's faith in people. Intensely powerful and painfully real, Thirteen Reasons Why reveals how brutal high school can be, the consequences of spreading rumors, and the lasting effects of suicide on those left behind.


I thought this book was really good. I love the way Asher sets it up -- the dual structure allows the reader to hear Clay's thoughts even as we hear Hannah's story. Obviously, this topic is very raw and emotional and it's somewhat hard to comment on it. Suicide is a situation that teens need to be aware about, and this novel covers a lot of the factors and signs of a suicidal person. It also does a lot to show how the little things we do for (or to) people can have a huge impact.

The one thing that prevented me from really becoming involved in this book was the fact that I couldn't relate to Hannah at all. I felt sorry for her and for the things that happened to her, but I could not get a connection. I don't know if it's because we hardly saw any real interaction with her aside from the tapes, or because the way she joked about her own suicide came off as bizarre, but I could not get a feel for her. I did, however, relate strongly to Clay, which is what kept the book going for me.

I'm not sure I would recommend this. I think it's a good book and it has a good message, but there are other more powerful books about suicide out there.

Listening to this as an audiobook is a great experience. For one thing, it makes the story real-time. The amount of time it takes for Clay to listen to Hannah's tapes and the amount of time it takes the listener to hear Hannah's tapes is the same. It made me feel a lot more connected to the main character. Also, it was a brilliant idea to get two narrators for this one -- it really added an element of reality to it. If you get the chance, listen to this one instead of reading it.

My rating:

Happy gaming!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Atomic Weight of Secrets Review

Author: Eden Unger Bowditch
Publisher: Bancroft Press
Hardcover: 320 pages
Source: ARC (Thanks NetGalley!)
For Challenge: A-Z Reading Challenge

Summary: (Taken from Goodreads *Note* I have shortened the summary)

In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world's most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.

But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

From all across the world, they've been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can't give them answers.

Things only get stranger from there. What is the book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother's underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?

How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives?

And why haven't their parents tried to contact them?

Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye, the situation is clear: They and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they're going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn't even know they were all working on an invention that will change the world forever.

But what if the men in black aren't trying to harm the children? What if they're trying to protect them?

And if they're trying to protect them, from what?

This book is most definitely written for the younger spectrum of the young adult audience. However, I found myself always wondering what was going to happen next, which made me not want to put the book down. There were times when it dragged, but for the most part, I was completely involved in the world that Bowditch has created.

The characters are charming. I fell in love with all of the five young inventors and completely sympathized with their individual worries. What I love about them is that they each have unique strengths and personalities and can bring different ideas to the table. The way they interact with each other shows how important friendship is and how a group of people (even children) can be more brilliant with each other than without.

One of the best things about this book is the growth that happens throughout the story. Each of the characters changes in some way because of the obstacles they face and because of the friendships they build with each other. I also like how Bowditch gives us excerpts from each of the character’s points of view, even Miss Brett, the teacher who is put in charge of the five inventors. This really allowed me to connect with every character and get a sense of who they are, where they come from, and what challenges they face within their lives.

But there were a few things that bothered me, which is why I’m not giving this book a five. Firstly, some of the stuff that happens is over the top. For example, the men in black all have very strange costumes; one wears a lady’s bonnet, one an inner tube, one has earmuffs and a teddy bear. I didn’t see the point of all this other than to make them more “mysterious.” This just didn’t do it for me. I think it would have been better if they had been more normal. However, I say this without having read the sequel, which may explain why they wear such ridiculous clothes. So, while it bothered me, I do understand that it may be explained later on. I would have liked to have a hint of an explanation in this book, though. Also, I find it strange that Faye just happens to be related to two rather prominent people (I'm not telling who!). Their appearance is very sudden and would have been much better had Faye’s relationship with them been mentioned or hinted at before we met them. It seems weird because she talks about her cousin Katherine before we meet her in the story, but doesn’t mention her other cousins.

Conclusion: This is a fun, entertaining book that’s at least worth a try. I enjoyed it and I think those who are interested in mystery, kid geniuses, and historical fiction may enjoy this too.

My rating:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A-Z Challenge Entry Post

Originally posted on The Lit Express, my home blog! Check it out if you have time. :)

I can't believe it's already been a month since my first post on The Lit Express. Can you believe it? Because SO MUCH has happened! The Dreaming of Books Giveaway (which was a HUGE success for everyone, I think!), a bunch of awesome books were released, not to mention Christmas, the New Year, and The Golden Globes (which, yes, is sort of like a holiday for me).

But, do you feel like something's been missing? Something like, I don't know, adrenaline rushes? The boosts of energy you get from competition? Anyone? Just me?

Well, I certainly have felt a lack of competitive energy. My current three challenges are progressing quite smoothly, so my decision:


That's right! I want to feel the burn. I want sweat to drop off my forehead from reading so much. Okay, not really because, well, gross. But I do think that at the rate I'm going, the three challenges are going to be finished by July. That is NOT acceptable. I'd like all of these challenges to last throughout the year. So, this month, I've decided to take on the A-Z Reading Challenge hosted by Steph at The Thoughts of a Book Junky.

So, here are the rules:

Read 26 books this year, one for each letter of the alphabet.

Here's how to enter:

Make a post with your list of 26 books and fill out the entry form.

If you don't have a blog don't worry, you can post your list on Facebook, Goodreads or wherever you can find -- just add your link to wherever you posted your list!!

When Steph has your link you will automatically be entered to win 2 books of your choice under $25 each.

The deadline is Feb. 12th everyone! So if you want to enter, HURRY!

Go here to sign up, if you haven't already. I would love to have some friends to do this challenge with me! Let me know if you're participating so I can follow you and keep myself updated on your progress -- and get some ideas for the blank spots on my list. ;)

Below is my tentative list-- books may (probably will) change as the year progresses:

A - The Atomic Weight of Secrets by Eden Unger Bowditch (Finished!)
B - Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz (Finished!)
C - Le Concile de Pierre by Jean-Christophe Grange
D - Deenie by Judy Blume
E - Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot
F - Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers (Finished!)
G - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
H - How to be Popular by Meg Cabot
I - It's Not the End of the World By Judy Blume
J - ?
K - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
L -?
M - Middlemarch by George Eliot
N - Nightwood by Patricia Windsor
O - One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen (Finished!)
P - The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Finished!)
Q - ?
R - Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
S - Stronghold by Melanie Rawn
T - Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Finished!)
U - ?
V - ?
W - The Weirdo by Theodore Taylor
X - ?
Y - Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby by Jane O'Connor
Z - ?
Happy gaming!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stuart Little Review

Author: E. B. White
Publisher: Listening Library
Narrator: Julie Harris
Duration: 1 hour 57 minutes

For Challenge(s):
Whisper Stories in My Ear and 2011 Audiobooks Challenge

(taken from Common Sense Media):
A mouse goes cross-country to seek his fortune and find a lost friend, falling into adventure after adventure along the way. His cheerful ingenuity always saves him from danger. From outwitting a cat to surviving an afternoon of substitute teaching, Stuart always knows just what to do. One of White's three classic animal stories, Stuart has captivated generations of children.


I thought this book was only okay. It's cute and fun, for sure. Stuart definitely has a lot of adventures and kids would most definitely love the direct, matter-of-fact way in which these wacky events are recounted. It's a fast read and quickly goes from one event to another. The one thing I didn't like about this book was how it ended. The main problem isn't resolved and I hate when that happens in any book.

The narration wasn't anything fantastic. It's kind of nice in the sense that it kind of sounds like your grandmother telling you a story, but there's nothing to make Harris stand out as a narrator. There was nothing that bothered me about her, but there was nothing that would make me recommend her specifically.

My rating: