Archive for July, 2011


I have to admit, I am slightly suspicious of writing juggernauts like James Patterson, Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel. Mostly because you have to wonder about someone who can push out that many books in a year (did they make a deal with a demon or something??). I mean, how do they find the time?!? Don’t get me wrong, I have read books by all of them, and enjoyed them very much. But I do get suspicious.

Another thing that makes me suspicious is when authors who have written a zillion and five adult titles* suddenly jump on the YA bandwagon. Yes YA is SO HOT right now. (Just like Hansel.) Yes, when something is SO HOT it is rather lucrative. And it has the ability to bring you, and your astounding back-catalogue, onto the radar of a new generation of readers. But should you be allowed to cash in on this trend if you’re not truly devoted to writing YA??? But this is just my cynical take on things… please make your own opinions! There is absolutely no reason you can’t read one of Mr Patterson’s non-YA novels after all. 🙂

*According to Wikipedia (the most authoritative source ever obvs) Mr Patterson has written 71 books in 33 years. That’s an average of 2.1515151515151 etc. books per year. Doesn’t seem like much… but I think he’s become faster as he’s aged or something.

So, given how suspicious I clearly was about this week’s book… I found I was actually pleasantly surprised. And so, I present to you book number 3,654,842,108 in Mr Patterson’s career:

book cover of "Witch and Wizard" by James Patterson

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson

Summary:

Whit and Wisty Allgood are living normal suburban lives in a world that has started to become a little bit topsy-turvy. There is a new government in charge and it isn’t unusual anymore for armed soldiers to march down a street at 2am and take people from their homes at gun point. Or it is not unusual if you’re Whit and Wisty anyway.

If being taken into custody by the new government isn’t strange enough, try adding the mysterious disappearance of Whit’s girlfriend, Celia, 3 months ago! Nothing is going the way it should be for Whit and Wisty, and it is becoming clear that things are going to get much worse before they ever get better.

Review:

Like I said in my intro, this book actually surprised me. I was expecting … you know, I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. I’ve read some of James Patterson’s adult novels and remember enjoying them, but that was a long time ago and I’ve read so many books since then I don’t really trust my memory. But for some reason I think I was expecting drivel. (Sorry Mr Patterson!)Why, you ask? Well mostly because I’m judgmental about authors who churn books out more often than most of us change socks, and about authors who jump on the newest trends (in this case YA lit and supernatural stories) so they can make even more money.

Man, I’m rather cynical aren’t I? 😉 But I think my cynicism comes from a good place. If you haven’t figured it out already, I love YA lit. I believe that it should be high quality and should never be produced just to make a buck. All readers of YA deserve this, but especially you readers who are yourselves young adults. This is your genre after all!! You have a right to demand quality and I assert my right to demand quality for you. 🙂

But I’m getting off track aren’t I? So what I liked about this book is that it was a fast-paced and interesting story with likeable and believable characters. The pacing was great; if you like a book that moves and doesn’t stop for anything, this is a book for you!

I liked that the story was set in a world that clearly had magical people living with muggles (thanks J.K. for giving us that word!) prior to the new regime coming into power. But since new regimes always want to change the world to their particular vision, clearly these magical folks would need to go. What I did find rather frustrating about this book though, was the fact that it did a lot of assuming. (And you know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of u and me. It’s an oldy, but a goodie. :D) It assumed that you knew what the world was like before the new regime. That you knew about words or sayings when there had been no prior explanation in the book, or even in a footnote or glossary in the back. Rather frustrating, wouldn’t you agree?

My only other criticism was the lack of character development. Whit and Wisty seem like rather cool people (who am I kidding, I’d love to know a witch and wizard!!!) but we don’t get too much detail about who they are as people and what makes them tick. But like I said, this is a fast-paced, action-packed, thrill-ride of a book. So character development clearly wasn’t priority number 1. Which is fine, since it’s totally just my bias and personal preferences acting up again. 😉

Rating: 3 of 5 star rating

This book did not light me on fire. But nor did it completely offend my delicate sensibilities. Ergo, ipso facto columbo oreo, I give this book a fair-to-middling rating. I’m not going to rush out to read the sequel, but nor will I avoid it. 🙂 You dodged a bullet Mr Patterson… carry on. 😉

How to get this book:

  1. book
  2. e-audiobook
  3. e-book

As with many YA books right now, and most of the books I choose to read myself, this book is part of a series. SHOCKING RIGHT? lol You currently have access to book number 2 (The Gift) through OverDrive as a downloadable e-audiobook. Book 3 (The Fire) comes out in December 2011. And if that’s not enough of Whit and Whisty for you, there is also a graphic novel (Battle for Shadowland).

I also found this book trailer for The Gift… and it makes mention of a movie?!? But I couldn’t find anything else on the interwebz to confirm or deny this. Your guess is as good as mine!!

Have you ever noticed how there is very often a character in a book/movie/tv show that is in love with the main character… even though the main character only considers them a friend? One of my favourite examples of this is from a classic John Hughes movie: Pretty In Pink. There are probably a million more, but I think that everyone should know about Andie and Duckie.

Now whenever there is a relationship like this in a book I’m reading/movie or tv show I’m watching, my reaction is almost always to take the side of the friend and root for them. What can I say, I like the underdog. But what invariably ends up happening is heartbreak. For the friend and for me. :S And Pretty in Pink is no exception.

What happens after the heartbreak varies. Sometimes this ends the relationship and, if there is a dark side to join, the friend often throws their lot in with the baddies… providing valuable insider information about the main character’s weaknesses. Othertimes, like in Pretty In Pink, there is no dark side. But that shouldn’t be shocking… the movie is called Pretty In Pink, not Star Wars. 😉 So the friend is left to decide whether or not they want to resume their friendship status and give up hope that the main character will love them eventually if they just try hard enough. I’m not going to tell you what happens in Pretty In Pink in the end… you’ll just have to find a copy and find out for yourselves. It’s worth it. If only for the amazingly insane 80’s fashion. 🙂

Needless to say this is a secondary plotline in this week’s book. And I’m sure you’re wondering just what that book is, and why I have done such a huge lead-up. Well I do have a point. And I will get there… when I’m good and ready. 😉

But for now, I would like to introduce you to the book of the week:

book cover of "City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Summary:

Out at an all ages club one night, Clary Fray witnesses something that changes her life forever. Clary impulsively follows a boy into a storage closet in the club in order to warn him that he was being followed, and instead watches him die. But if that wasn’t awful enough, the 3 kids who kill this boy aren’t quite human. They insist that the boy they killed wasn’t either. But is Clary supposed to believe that he was actually a demon?? From this point on Clary realizes that she can’t take anything she thought she knew to be true seriously or trust anyone she thought was on her side. Because nothing is true anymore and it seems like no one is on her side.

Review:

Because I want to be honest here, I’m going to have to say that my opinion of this book is counter to what most people have said they think/feel about it. It is a New York Times bestseller (the whole series is actually), and has been singled out by many YA organizations and bloggers as an excellent book… but I really didn’t like it. :S I found the plot slow and really unbelieveable. I know it’s fantasy, and I’m usually really good at suspending my disbelief … but this was just frustrating.

Even more frustrating was how little I liked the main character. Objectively I have no issues with Clary, but something about how she was written just didn’t click with me. Less than 1/4 of the way into the book she had completely lost me. I wasn’t invested in her story one bit. And, although it took me forever to figure out why, I have pinpointed my issue. Much like my love for Duckie’s character in Pretty in Pink inspired my ire towards Andie, my instant support of Clary’s best friend Simon completely destroyed any chance I had of connecting with her. And unlike in Shiver, Simon does not feature heavily in the novel… leaving me with little to enjoy. Also, I found Clary’s love interest (Jace) to be vapid and rude.

The thing that really irks me about how little I liked this book is that I really liked the idea! The thought that there is a world outside our own, that there are beings who are not human living among us… I find that all very fascinating and usually enjoy reading books with similar plots. So it was really lunchbag letdown reading this book. I was stoked that I had found another series to read… but it turns out I got excited too soon. 😦

Rating: 2 of 5 star rating

Like I said, this book didn’t do it for me. I really don’t like when I don’t like a book… but it is bound to happen right?? Please, if you found the other books in the series to be better, let me know. I might be convinced to give Clary and company another chance.

How to get this book:

  1. book

We also have books 2 & 3 in the series: City of Ashes and City of Glass.

They are also up on OverDrive in e-audiobook format. If you’re being forced to take a long road trip with the family this summer and get sick reading in the car, this could be the format for you! Just load up your mp3 player, and you’ve got hours of distraction at your fingertips. 😉

So it never ceases to amaze me how things come together sometimes. How all of a sudden something (a word, a theme, an idea) will just show up in your life again and again and you really don’t know what connects these happenings… but you know something does. This has been happening to me a lot lately. First it was this blog I follow (these ladies are geniuses, seriously… I bow to them!), then it was a movie I had forgotten about and rediscovered, then it was an hilarious video on my friend’s facebook profile yesterday. The theme of all of these things?? Beauty Queens. And then I realized what it was all pointing to: this week’s book!

One of the best parts of my job is ordering new books for the collection. I get to read about tons of new books and help to decide which of these books will make it through the doors of BPL. Every once and a while however, I read a review of a book that I immediately want, and not just for the library, but for me. And this, well this is one of those books.

So without further rambling on my part, I would like to introduce you to this week’s pick:

cover of "Beauty Queens" by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Summary:

On their way to film the Miss Teen Dream pagent, the plane carrying the contestants from all 50 states plummets out of the sky and crash-lands on a deserted tropical island. Dazed and confused, the 12 survivors band together to gather supplies, look for any other survivors and scout the island. But all is not as it seems. The island is full of secrets, but these secrets are nothing compared to the ones the girls are keeping from each other.

Review:

This book was EPIC. E-P-I-C. EPIC!

I will buy a copy, and it will be a hardcover copy. And I never buy hardcover copies of books. This is mostly because when I read them in bed and fall asleep it really hurts when they smack me in the face. 😉 Oh and they’re also expensive.

But I am going to list for you several of the reasons why I loved this book:

  • Pop culture references: I am a pop culture junkie. I love knowing about what the Kardashians are doing, who is playing Katniss in the Hunger Games movie, and how many degrees of Kevin Bacon there are! So this book, and the zany spoofs of the current trends and stars in pop culture right now was right in my wheelhouse.
  • Beauty Queens: Um hello, who doesn’t love beauty queens? I mean, what’s not to love? There are spray tans, professionally whitened teeth, nose jobs, boob jobs, scandals and pagent parents. Oooh, and sequins… lots and lots of sequins!!!!
  • Irreverent humour: Oh sassy girls! I can’t get enough of characters who are smart-asses. And I love when the ridiculous is pointed out and dealt with head on. Brilliant! 🙂
  • Reasons to watch things like this: Drop Dead Gorgeous & Tom Hanks does Toddlers and Tiaras and generally spend a lot of time on YouTube. 🙂
  • The Cover: A blonde girl in a bikini with a lipstick filled bandolier??? Can you say awesome??

There are other reasons, but because of their spoiler-ish nature I will not mention them here. I want you to be able to love the story as it unfolds… spoiler free!

Rating: 5 of 5 star rating

I really don’t think anyone is shocked by this rating. I’ve already professed my love for the book, and now I’m showing it in numbers… or I guess stars. But same dif right?? 😀

How to get this book:

  1. book

This sucker is brand-spanking-new. It still has that awesome new-book smell. So why are you still sitting here and reading this??? Go get it!!!

So I think we all have to agree that in popular culture, mentors are key to making a successful hero. Luke had Yoda, Bruce Wayne had Ra’s Al Ghul, Daniel had Mr. Miyagi, and Buffy had Giles. Each of the mentors, although they could come in a deceptive package… like a tiny old green dude or a librarian, were totally kick-ass in their own right. Not only did they impart knowledge and provide excellent guidance, but they lay a smackdown when needed and then went right back to being all mentorly. Clearly versatility is important in a mentor. 😉

This week’s book, has a pretty sweet mentor in a very interesting guise. I look forward to getting to know him better as the series moves on! But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me introduce you to this week’s book:

book cover of "Shadowland" by Meg Cabot

Shadowland by Meg Cabot

Summary:

Suze loves her mom, and she really likes her new step-dad. But moving to California… who were they kidding? This was not her first choice. She may not be the most popular girl, something her mom has never really understood, but moving from New York where she’s comfortable and fits in to the land of surfing and palm trees… not to mention the 3 step-brothers that she’s gaining and will have to live with… Well needless to say, Suze isn’t really ready for everything that she is going to have to get used to with this move.

One thing that hasn’t changed despite moving coasts, however, is Suze’s ability to see and communicate with the dead. And guess what, the house that she’s moving in to has a resident ghost. One that lives in her room.

Review:

So I’m going to be straight with you. This book is not new. SHOCKING! Meg Cabot is incredibly prolific (honestly I don’t know how she writes as much as she does… she’s a machine!) and thankfully they keep re-releasing her books so that we can always get our hands on them. This book is one of her back-catalogue that has recently been given new life. It has been published as a 2 book set with the second book in the series, The Ninth Key. But honestly, this book doesn’t feel like it’s not new. There may have been one or two places where I thought, ‘Oh yes, I remember what she’s talking about … nice reference there Cabot’, but on the whole, you will not find this terribly dated. More like awesomely retro!

Suze is my favourite kinds of main character. She’s smart and sassy and able to kick ass, but she’s got some depth. Suze genuinely cares about people, even dead ones. She may not really know how to show it, but you can see it shining through. And I like that. I know I feel this way sometimes, and I remember feeling it more when I was her age. Meg Cabot once again does a wonderful job of creating a relatable and funny character, with lots of depth. And her secondary characters are awesome too. I’m not going to spoil the book for you, but Suze’s new friends are awesome. And her brothers… well I don’t know what’s better about them, Suze’s nicknames for them or the characters themselves!

This book fits right in to the current trend of supernatural stories that is still going strong. (Yes dystopian stories are the newest hottest thing, but who are we kidding, there is always interest in a good ghost story.) So get out your flashlight, make some s’mores and curl up with this series. You won’t regret it. 🙂

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

I give this book 4 stars. Meg Cabot, is there anything you write that I won’t love?? But my biases aside, is there really anything not to love about a quick read, with lots of funny characters, a fast-paced story and a seriously awesome mentor?? I didn’t think so. 😉

How to get this book:

  1. e-book
  2. playaway

Like I said, this book is part of a series. We have access to several of the books through OverDrive: The Ninth Key, Reunion and The Twilight. Unfortunately that leaves books 4 and 5 out. But don’t worry, we can always Interlibrary Loan them for you. Hopefully OverDrive will see the error of their ways and fix this. (I should really email them about that shouldn’t I??)

We also have tons of Meg’s other books if you’re interested. Her newest one, Abandon looks pretty awesome!!!!!!