Tag Archive: series


I really don’t think that there are many movies made from books that can hold a candle to the book that inspired them. Most of the time when I have read a book and enjoyed it I am very reluctant to see the movie version. There are many movies from books that I remember being TERRIBLY disappointing on so many levels, but usually I just don’t understand why they have to change something from the book to put it in the movie. It’s like they think that the movie-going public doesn’t read or is really stupid or something. But the bigwigs in Hollywood should know better by know, shouldn’t they? I mean, hello??, Harry Potter??? Like everyone who saw those movies hadn’t read the books? In this day of Avatar-esque technology is there anything that is written in a book that can’t be put in a movie? I mean, come on!

Because of past disappointments like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, My Sister’s Keeper, The Devil Wears Prada, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Jane Austen Book Club, Memoirs of a Geisha, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, P.S. I Love You,… really the list just goes on and on…. I generally try to stay away from movie versions of books I have loved. I will, however, gladly go and see movies that have been made from books that I have not yet read, or do not plan on reading. The Help would be an excellent recent example. Despite our library having 3 copies of this book, there has been a list of holds on it as long as my arm since about May this year. I suppose I could have put my name on the list and waited my turn… but I wanted to see the movie! So I did. And it was awesome. πŸ™‚ And now, when I finally get to read the book, I can be pleasantly surprised and happy about how much better it is than the movie. πŸ˜‰

So why, you ask, am I ranting about movies today? Well because the books I am going to be featuring in this post have already been made into a movie. One that I, thankfully, saw before I ever read the books. So now I can like them both for their own special reasons. πŸ™‚ I think that I’m going to make this my goal from now on: Never watch movies of books you have read if you can possibly avoid it because you know it will make you angry. πŸ™‚ Probably a good rule of thumb right? πŸ˜‰

Here they are, the books I’ve chosen for this week. Maybe you should go and find the movie first though … just saying. πŸ˜‰

Book covers for all 6 Scott Pilgrim books

The Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Summary:

Scott Pilgrim is 23. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is in a band. And he is dating a highschooler. Needless to say, drama will ensue. However, it won’t come from his high school aged girlfriend but rather from the girl he falls for next. Ramona Flowers. The girl with 7 evil exes who must be defeated to win her love. Good luck, Scott.

Review:

So first let me say, I did not discover this book on my own. There was a class at library school that was totally about graphic novels. I didn’t take it, but not because I was not interested. More because it was on a Friday at 9am in the summer semester. And I’m sorry because maybe this makes me a bad person, but I was not about to take a class on a Friday in the summer. It was hard enough going to school in the summer as it was. (Sunshine seems to be detrimental to my ability to learn.) However, this class took a field trip to see the movie based on these graphic novels and opened it up to those of us not cool enough to have taken the class. Which was pretty decent of them if you ask me. πŸ˜‰ Now this was great, I like any reason to go and see movies, but what made it even better was the personal connection those of us on that trip had to this series/movie. You see, the character in the books and the movie named ‘Other Scott’ is based on a man who went to library school with us last year. Not shockingly, his name is also Scott. So it was very cool to see our Scott immortalized in film. πŸ™‚

Since this movie came out I have been wanting to get my hands on these books. And let me just say that they did not disappoint. The movie was, in my opinion amazing… which is why I have forced friends to watch it with me on several occasions and I know that at least one of them has gone on to do the same to her other friends :D… and like I said above, when a movie is based on a book and is actually not bad, you know the book is going to blow your mind.

Bryan Lee O’Malley is a great writer. He also happens to be a great graphic novelist. His characters are so well fleshed out that you really feel that you are experiencing things alongside them, rather than just sitting back and watching a show. Also, he has managed to capture portraits of people that you already know. Everyone knows a guy like Scott who tries too hard and just really couldn’t get his life together if he tried. They know the girls that he used to date, like Kim, who are bitter but still hang out with him… which creates a crazy dynamic. And we all know people like Stacey (Scott’s sister) and Wallace (Scott’s roommate) who love Scott, but are not at all blind to his failings and don’t hesitate to call him on his stuff. Especially when it allows them to lord over him. As it invariably does, because, let’s face it, Scott kinda fails at life a lot of the time. πŸ™‚

This is also an epic underdog story. Scott is not super talented, not super handsome, not super smart, and definitely not super smooth with the ladies. And this is why you root for him. You want him to succeed because you know what at least some of that feels like.

Finally, these books are super fast reads. There’s love and action (Hello, Scott does have to defeat Ramona’s 7 evil exes… did you figure he did that in a dance sequence?? Hells to the No! There are Chuck Norris style kick butt fight scenes :D) and drama… not to mention awesome pop-culture shout-outs and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s fabulous artwork. Plus the series is done. While I did read an interview with Byran that said that he might consider more Scott Pilgrim in the future, for the present time, he’s not going to be doing any additions to the series. So this means that you can grab all 6 books and get the full Pilgrim saga, no waiting. Instant gratification… ain’t it lovely? πŸ˜‰ Now, I ask you, what are you waiting for? Go, get them!! πŸ˜€

Rating: 5 of 5 star rating

This book is Canadian and it doesn’t suck. (Yes W.O. Mitchell… I’m pointing at you. Again.) Please don’t think that I’m saying every Canadian book sucks. This is not true. But this book is Canadian. And it doesn’t suck. πŸ˜‰ Also, Michael Cera’s in the movie.

See… there’s just so much to give 5 stars!! And there’s so much more awesomeness in the book!! I didn’t think it was possible, but it REALLY WAS! Ok… I might need to lie down. I’m a little overwrought. πŸ˜‰ Just go read the books and you’ll know what I mean. Do it for me, ok? πŸ˜‰

How to get these books:

  1. graphic novels

*Librarian note* Just a tip: Graphic novels live in a slightly different spot than other YA novels @ our library. We have chosen to shelve them as non-fiction, usually under the call number: 741. They are not, however, shelved with the other non-fiction titles. (Confused already?) Instead, they live on the top of the bookcase that houses video games, magazines and audiobooks/playaways. If you need help finding them, just head to the librarian at the desk upstairs. They’ll/I’ll be more than happy to show you exactly where they are. πŸ™‚

IT’S ALIVE!!!!! ALIVE!!!!!!!

One summer when I was a teenager I decided that I needed to read more ‘classics’. You know, those works of fiction that everyone harps on you to read, saying that they’ve stood the test of time and if you don’t read them you’ll be lost in your life forever. Blah, blah, blah. Amirite? Anyhoo, a lot of these classics you’re forced to read in high school… depending on where you go to school of course. My high school focused a lot on Canadian literature, which meant that most of the books I read were by authors I’d never heard of before but now know are some of the most highly regarded authors in Canada’s literary world. (Why some of them are on the list boggles my mind… yes W.O. Mitchell I’m talking to you, but hey, what do I know?)

Now the people reading this who are into classic literature are probably coming up with an extensive list in their head of what books I should have read during this summer. Chances are what I read will not be on that list. Unless they’re a classic novel enthusiast who happens to love monsters that is. No Grapes of Wrath, War and Peace, or Pride and Prejudice for me! (Although another summer saw me read the entire collected works of Jane Austen. A lady that I will love forever for giving us Mr Darcy!) Nope, I read the great monster classics, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Dracula by Bram Stoker. At this point I think I got distracted by other books, and that ended my run of ‘classics’, but these two books have always kept a special place in my heart. πŸ™‚

So I credit this foray into the world of classic monster literature as part of the reason why I got SO INCREDIBLY CRAZY EXCITED when I read that this week’s book was coming out. So if you like monsters, or wonder what teenage boy goes on to create monsters… this is a book for you!

Let’s get to it shall we?

Book cover of 'This Dark Endeavour' by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

Summary:

Victor Frankenstein has things pretty good. He along with his twin, Konrad, cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry have the run of a huge castle (Chateau Frankenstein, don’t you know), indulgent parents and hoards of servants who care for their every need. It’s not shocking that Victor’s a little bit spoiled and full of himself. Wouldn’t you be? Thankfully Victor has Konrad to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Until, suddenly, Konrad becomes deathly ill. Victor is desperate to save his twin and will stop at nothing to ensure that he will not lose the only person he loves as much as himself. But what this quest to save Konrad will ultimately lead Victor to do may change the course of his life forever.

Review:

So Kenneth Oppel is a pretty famous Canadian author. (Interesting tidbit about Mr. Oppel? He wrote his first novel at age 15. Sent it to his fav author, Roald Dahl, who passed it on to his own agent and, presto, it was published in 1985.) I haven’t read any of his other books before… so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Like I said before, I don’t always understand why some authors are held in such high esteem, and this has made me skeptical. But I was very very pleasantly surprised!

The characters in this book were so life-like for me. I really felt that Victor was a real guy, experiencing totally normal emotions given the fact that his twin was deathly ill. I also really liked the love/rivalry that defined so much of his relationship with Konrad. I don’t have a twin, but I can only imagine what it would be like to have someone in your life that was physically identical to you, but different in so many other ways. The best part of Victor for me was how easy Kenneth Oppel made it to understand the things that Victor was willing to do. In the hands of another author I feel that Victor could easily have become a character that you could not relate to, one that was a villian rather than the genuinely conflicted young man that he seemed to be.

The pacing of this story was excellent. You not only got to know what was going on in the character’s heads, were given sufficient backstory to make them and the whole tale feel genuine, but it moved like a runaway freight train! There was just enough down-time in the story to give your poor brain a rest, but never enough to make the it drag or become boring. The historical setting was also very interesting. I don’t know much about alchemy or the history of modern medicine, but I really enjoyed learning bits and pieces about it through the story. Inadvertent learning really is the best, I feel. πŸ˜‰

Now, I know that my natural disposition is to want a sequel or series from any book that I like as much as I liked this one. This situation is no different. However, I could cope should there not be any other books about Victor Frankenstein forthcoming from the brilliant place that is Kenneth Oppel’s brain. This book is such a great standalone novel… it gives you lots of material to work with and although you would very much like to know what happens next, it is rather fun just imagining it for yourself. And I never think that. Ever. I always want my worlds to continue and my relationships to characters to last for more books than any author would ever want to write. So I think that either I’m coming down with something, or Kenneth Oppel has managed to do what I never thought possible. Create a world that I would like to explore in my own imagination without an author spoonfeeding me the story. It’s an odd feeling, but I like it. Kind of like the first bike ride without the training wheels… kind of freeing, but totally scary! πŸ™‚ So I think you should get out there and take off your training wheels… see what you think about this awesomely fabulous addition to the classic monster story genre!

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

I really liked this book! I was impressed with Kenneth Oppel’s ability to look beyond the classic story and imagine a world in which Victor Frankenstein became the man from Mary Shelley’s classic novel. I think this must have been very exciting to write, but I also imagine that he would have had some trepidation in adding to the story that is so well known and respected in western literature. But let’s see what he has to say about writing this book shall we? (Isn’t YouTube awesome?)

How to get this book:

  1. book
  2. e-audiobook

And now, here’s a clip from one of my favourite interpretations of the Frankenstein Monster tale: Young Frankenstein. Clearly not your traditional take on the story. πŸ˜‰ But honestly people, dancing monsters? What’s not to love?!?!?

So I have a sister. Not all that surprising right? I’d either have a sister, a brother, both, or no siblings at all. It’s kinda how things work here. πŸ˜‰ Anyhoo, I’ve got a sister. She’s younger than me, which has really become pretty much irrelevant now that we’re both over the age of 20. However, I don’t want anyone to forget that I’m older. It’s an older sibling thing.

My sister isn’t as crazy-sauce for books as I am. Don’t get me wrong, she definitely reads, but she’s much less likely to be caught reading while doing everything it is at all possible to read and do at the same time as I am. I walk and read, brush my teeth and read, eat and read, take the cat out on a leash and read (Yeah, it’s embarrassing for both of us), and, if I could, I’d drive, sleep and shower while reading. It’s an addiction, I know this.

cat lying on back in garden wearing harnessSee, this is what I have to be seen outside with. It’s just easier to read while we’re outside and try and pretend that all the neighbours don’t think I’m nuts. But they do. They’ve mentioned it to me. Loudly. 😦

But my sister has done me several favours in our reading lives. She has allowed me to know the entire 1st Madeline book by heart (In an old house in Paris, all covered in vines…), has exposed me to the epic fantasy series Dragonlance, and introduced me to this week’s author. And for all of these things I have to thank her. Very much. But I should probably call her to do this because I don’t think she reads my blog. What a jerk eh? πŸ˜‰

So (while I call my sister and complain to her about how totally not supportive she is) I’m going to introduce you to our book of the week:

Book cover for Withering Tights

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Summary:

Tallulah Casey’s knees are located 4 feet off the ground (or so she says). Everyone else in her family is normal sized, but somehow she managed to get the giant gene. And to make matters more fearsome, she is heading off this summer to a theatre arts camp all by her lonesome.

Armed with her cousin Georgia’s comedy moustache and lots of hope about all of the boys she will meet, Tallulah heads off into the wilds of Yorkshire for a grand, and decidedly dramatic adventure!

Review:

Like I said, my first introduction to Louise Rennison came in the form of the first Georgia Nicholson book: Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, that my sister had borrowed from a friend. I saw her reading it, thought ‘What the hell is up with that title?!?’ and decided that I HAD to read it. Like right away. So I stole it from her and read it. Good thing I am a fast reader, or that could have caused a bit of an issue. πŸ˜‰ And it was awesome. Lived up to its name 100%. Flash forward to now, and I have read most of the Georgia Nicholson series and love, Love, LOVE Louise Rennison’s writing style. And Georgia. She’s mad, and British and just completely mad, which is awesome. So needless to say (although you know me, I say a lot whether it’s needed or not!) I had very high expectations for this book. I also may have squealed when I saw it on the shelf.

This book, the first in a new series by Louise Rennison, is related to Georgia Nicholson and her series. And I really mean that, because the main character Tallulah is Georgia’s cousin.

Now I liked Tallulah, but not quite as much as I liked Georgia. Or maybe it is just that I didn’t love her instantly like I did Georgia. Because, now that I think about it, I did laugh within the first few pages after she kicked some old dude on a train by accident. (It’s her very long legs you see.) So yes, I’m going with no instant love for Tallulah. I had to get used to her, and our relationship needed to grow and blossom, which takes time.But I did come to like Tallulah very much, and had a great deal of fun with her on the moors of Yorkshire.

All of the supporting characters in this book, from the ridiculously dramatic staff at Tallulah’s drama camp thinger to the family that she lives with while in Yorkshire, were sensational. Quirky and memorable, which is exactly what I had expected from Louise. And I really liked that Tallulah narrated the book, but that she moved away from the diary style of the Georgia Nicholson series.

A good thing to know about this book before you read it is that you might want to at least brush up on your Bronte sisters, if not actually read Wuthering Heights. (Or the plot summary…) Not that it has much to do with the plot of this book, but they do refer to it a lot. Starting with the title. … You picked that up right? πŸ˜‰

Basically this is just a killer book about a girl who likes acting, is insecure about her knees, and wants to know what it’s like to kiss a boy. So pretty much every girl between the ages of 12 and 18. πŸ˜‰ Oh and for those of you who want to know if this is a ‘kissing book’? The answer is yes. But there is also a pie eating contest, squirrel slippers and owls. Clearly this is much more than just a ‘kissing book’. πŸ˜€

Rating: 3 of 5 star rating

I know what you’re thinking. 3 stars?? Why only 3?? And this is my reason: Had I not read all of the Georgia Nicholson books I bet you $1.50 that I would have loved, Loved, LOVED these books too! (I say $1.50 b/c I’ve been accused of exaggerating in the past and am trying to prove a point. It’s just no fun to use amounts of money you could actually afford to bet when trying to illustrate something in an emphatic manner. Fact.) But the fact remains that I did, and so Tallulah had to work harder to impress me.

Bottom line, this rating is not about the book as much as it is about me. πŸ˜‰ It is still a super quick and quirky read and I totally recommend you read it. There is fun to be had in this one people!

How to get this book:

  1. book

I know you’ll be relieved to know, we also have some of the Georgia Nicholson books. And what we don’t have, if you want it, we can get it. Bring your library card to me, and I’ll get ‘er done. πŸ™‚

And if this all sounds too wonderful and you can’t wait to get in here to borrow Withering Tights… here’s a wee short story from Louise’s website, starring both Georgia and Tallulah. Fun! Oh I love these books…

A word picture, just for you!

So it’s confession time people. Brace yourselves. *cue dramatic music*

I have never read a graphic novel.

I know, I know! You’d think given how fabulously cool and up on trends in YA books I am (cough, cough…) that I would have been all over the graphic novel thing years and years ago.

Epic fail on my part.

Now I did grow up reading as many of these bad boys as I could get my hands on.

Cover art for an 'Archie' comic book Limited funds and smart parenting meant that I was pretty much restricted to what I could borrow from friends, but this allowed me to complete university without massive debt… so I suppose I should not be too bitter. Vintage 'Spiderman' comic book coverAnd there was some access to older copies of the classic comics, like Batman and Spiderman kicking around in my childhood too. So it’s not like I haven’t had access to the graphic format… honest!

But as for actually reading a graphic novel… nope. I remember, when a library that I worked in started adding them to the collection, being very confused as to why you started reading some of them from what we in the West consider to be the back of the book. This just really threw me for a loop. Apparently this is not hard to do. πŸ™‚ This didn’t prompt me to read one though.

So I decided, in the interest of this blog and dragging myself into the 21 Century, to read a graphic novel. Not a whole lot of thought went into the selection… mostly because the 1st Scott Pilgrim was out and I didn’t recognize anything else on the shelf. (Clearly I did a lot of research before embarking on this journey. lol) But my fingers found me a wee gem, so I am happy to report my mission a success. πŸ™‚

To further set the stage for this week’s book, I’m just going to share a classic video. I love fairy tales, but I also love when they get twisted up. The True Story of The Three Little Pigs or The Stinky Cheese Man (both found here) are excellent examples of what I’m talking about. πŸ™‚

Like I said, here’s the wee video:

And now, our book!

Book cover of Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Summary:

It starts with the story of Sleeping Beauty you guys, do you really need me to retell that old yarn for you??? And then it changes into another crazy fairy tale… but I don’t do spoilers (or I really really try not to… ) so you’re not getting a summary. Sorry ’bout your luck. πŸ˜€

Review:

I know nothing about graphic novels, like I’ve already said. So I am really not qualified to comment on anything. That said, I have an opinion about pretty much everything, and that is what I’m going to share. πŸ˜‰

While in library school last year I rediscovered a love for picture books. I understand why we move away from reading picture books when we are children. They are seen to be for young children, and are often written without too much depth or with heavy-handed messages that are just too shallow or preachy for older children. Also, we see books with fewer pictures being read by our parents, older siblings or other more grown up people, and since we generally want to be like them, this is what we aspire to. But I think that we should all return to picture books before we become parents. Well before this in fact. Graphic novels are a wonderful gateway for this to start happening more and more because they can be produced for every age group, not just teens.

So like I said, Castle Waiting starts with the story of Sleeping Beauty. It’s a pretty well known fairy tale and this book sticks true to the story as I remember it until the very end. Then things take off at a bit of a right angle to the traditional ‘happy ending’ we all know as standard for Western fairy tales. (Often the original fairy tale is not so kind as the Disney-fied version we’re all so used to. Grab yourself a book of Brothers Grimm tales and you’ll see what I mean.) The focus leaves Sleeping Beauty, now awake and with her ‘one true love‘ the Prince, and stays on the castle where she had been asleep for 100 years.The castle becomes host to all sorts of odd creatures and gains a reputation as a place for those without homes to find peace along their journeys.

I really liked some of the story arcs that began in Castle Waiting. (My research has told me that there is a 2nd book, and I’m seeing if we can’t get it for our collection as it would be nice to know where this all ends up.) And I also really enjoyed the story being told in pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ll ever move away from all-text books completely, but it really felt different reading a book that engaged more than just the part of my brain that makes sense of words. I felt like I was using more of my brain to read, if that makes any sense. Also, it seemed to me that I was able to read the book faster than I would normally. I would bet that this is because we can understand pictures faster than we can read and comprehend words, so being able to both see the story in pictures and only have to read the dialogue made things move along much faster than normal. (If you don’t love words, maybe graphic novels are the format for you?)

The only thing I didn’t really get into in Castle Waiting was the way some of the characters were depicted. And this is where the graphic format lost me a little. With text, I can imagine a character looks how I want them too look. Generally the author has given a descripton of them, but if I don’t agree totally with their verbal summation of the character’s looks I can change my mental picture. With grahpic novels, there is no changing what you’re seeing. Unless of course you try to read with your eyes closed (very difficult) or get out the sharpie (*Please note, this is totally not advisable with library books. We make you pay for them if you sharpie them up, drop them in the bath or otherwise deface them. Just fyi.*). And unfortunately for me and Castle Waiting’s relationship, I didn’t like how some of the characters were drawn. Just a little too far from reality for my tastes. Or maybe too far from Disney’s reality. Damn Disney. πŸ˜‰ But like I said, this was the only issue that I had with the book. Otherwise I think it’s a pretty cool reimagining of what happens after a fairy tale ends and the princess and her ‘true love’ move on with their lives. πŸ™‚ You might want to check this out!

Rating:3 of 5 star rating

I think this book is a totally solid way to enter into the world of graphic novels. If you’re like I was and are looking for a way in, what better way to get familliar with the format than by taking a well loved fairy tale for a spin? Just mind the bearded ladies ok? πŸ™‚ (Yes, that’s an inside joke. Read the book if you want to get it!)

How to get this book:

  1. book

And in celebration of the graphic way of telling stories, I’d like to share with you some of my fondest graphic formatted things. πŸ™‚

Calvin and Hobbes:

Calvin - young boy- making strange faces

And Zits:

Enjoy!!

What it is about thieves? We certainly have a fascination about them that permeates western culture. Interestingly enough, what prompted me to do this book review this week was not the fact that I’d finished this book recently, but it was this news article about the Mona Lisa. This year marks the 100th anniversary of when the Mona Lisa was stolen. It is one of the more famous art thefts in history, but certainly not the only one.

But we’re not just intrigued by art thieves are we? No, we like the idea of people who steal anything. Case in point? Movies. We’ve got ‘To Catch a Thief’, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’, ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’, ‘Snatch’, ‘Ocean’s 11’, ‘The Italian Job’, and ‘Fast Five’. And those were just the ones that I thought of in the 15 seconds I sat in front of YouTube today. πŸ˜‰

I doubt I’ll ever be able to answer the question … but I definitely fall into the category of people who loves the romanticized picture tv, movies and books paint of thieves. Real thieves… well not so much. But I don’t really have much worth stealing either… So I should be good!

Now it’s time for me to introduce to you a new thief on the block… star of this weeks’ book:

book cover for Hiest Society by Ally Carter

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Summary:

Katarina Bishop is not like other girls. Her life thus far has been so far from ordinary most of us couldn’t manage to understand even if we tried. Katarina is a thief. A thief who comes from a very long line of thieves responsible for some of the most famous unsolved thefts in history.

But she’s had enough. Which is why she pulled the most elaborate con of her life to gain admission to the elite Colgan School. She figured it was the life she wanted, a normal life for a girl longing to be normal. She didn’t count on it being so boring.

But then, summoned to the headmaster’s office on totally false charges of theft and destruction of his prized Porsche, Katarina finds herself kicked out of Colgan, and immediately wrapped up again in the only world she’s ever known: the world of thieves. And no surprise, there’s danger and intrigue afoot.

Review:

So I must admit I did turn my nose up a wee bit when I saw that this book had been published by Disney. You know the folks responsible for Tinkerbell and this place:

The Castle at Disney

Them. They publish books. Oh good, because they needed another way to cash in on their movie and tv characters. *Head. Desk.*

But, as often happens when I’m being rather judgmental, I was proven wrong. This book was pretty darn good! I will take some points off, however, for it reading somewhat like a Disney movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with Disney movies really… I’ve seen many of them. Including (to my delight and shame) the HSM movies. But the book did feel a tad bit tidy and after school special at times… despite it’s appeal. I tend to like my books and my movies to be a bit messier. You know, like the original Degrassi?? No? Well I haven’t watched the new Degrassi, so I’m just going to assume they’ve stayed true to their roots there.

But I digress… hugely.

I really liked the characters in this book. All of them. Which is surprising, since I often find something I don’t like about at least one. But this was not the case with Kat and her friends. I also really enjoyed the idea of teens being able to pull off complex and challenging heists. It’s very true that you’re probably at your most daring while you’re a teen, so why not take advantage? (And no, I’m not telling you to go steal something for the thrill of it, so stop right there.) Clearly the number of teens with a heritage like Kat’s is as limited as the number of teens who have the funds available to her friend Hale, but that lends a sense of fun and unreality to the book that is great to escape with.

The plot moved well, and I liked how it was subdivided by location in the physical text. It broke the story into nice chunks, but wasn’t distracting and didn’t get in the way of the story. And who doesn’t love a good old fashioned story of kids pitting their wits against the evil adult villain. Now that I think about it, this book was also kinda like Scooby-Doo… but not at all in a bad way. πŸ˜‰

Rating: 3 of 5 star rating

I give this book 3 stars. Like I said, I took off points for being a little too sweet at times. But I’m definitely going to recommend it as a light, fun, fast read about stealing things because it’s what you were born to do baby. πŸ˜‰

How To Get This Book:

  1. book

Keep your eyes pealed for the sequel, Uncommon Criminals. It’s on order… I promise!!

Also of news about this book… it’s been optioned into a movie. IMDB says so. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, they’ve decided to age the characters into their 20’s… which I think is a stinker of an idea. Teens can too save the world… why doesn’t Hollywood get this???????????

πŸ™‚

I don’t like horror movies. I don’t like gory scenes, or things jumping out at you from dark corners, or knowing that something really really bad is going to happen just from what music is playing during a particular scene. I’ve seen some horror movies (generally not by choice :S), and forced myself to watch some of the classics just so I would get the pop-culture references. Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock was one. And even though it is in black and white and I knew the basic plot, it was still more than scary enough for me. Generally speaking, I keep my movie watching limited to comedies, dramas, or other movies that I figure won’t cause me to jump and scream or have to hide my face.

Unless of course, it’s a Harry Potter movie.

Then I just squint my eyes and flinch and pray that the scary scene doesn’t last too long. Mostly because I forget to breathe during them… and well I’d hate to pay over $9 for a movie and then pass out for part of it. πŸ˜‰

So it is rather strange to me that some of my favourite movies feature the horror movie staple, Zombies.

Exhibit A:

Shaun of the Dead. Seriously, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost… they can do no wrong!

And Exhibit B:

Zombieland.

But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself this week. So I’ll let you read about this week’s book, and then I’ll explain why I’ve been rambling about horror movies, and zombies. πŸ™‚

Here you go:

book cover of "Enclave" by Ann Aguirre

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Summary:

“I was born during the second holocaust. People had told us legends of a time when human beings lived longer. I thought they were just stories. Nobody even lived to see forty in my world.”

Duce lives underground, in a small community of other holocaust survivors. Everyone here has a specific purpose and is expected to do their job to support the community. Well everyone over the age of 15 that is. If you’re under 15, you don’t even rate a name. But that’s because most ‘brats’ don’t live very long in the enclave… so why bother to give them a name?

Duce has finally reached her 15th birthday and along with her name has also been given a job as a hunter. Being a hunter is the dream she has had for as long as she can remember. But she is partnered with the only hunter who has ever survived life outside the enclave, and she doesn’t trust him at all. Something that could be fatal, given how dangerous the Freaks (fleshing-eating monsters that eat anything that moves in the tunnels) make hunting in the tunnels around the enclave. But Duce quickly comes to realize that her new partner may be the only one she can trust with her life, both in and outside their home.

Reivew:

So everyone and their dog seems to be jumping on the dystopian bandwagon. I’ve already reviewed three such titles, as I’m sure you remember. (Find them here, here & here if you need a refresher!) So when I pulled this book off the new book shelf and saw that it was ‘for fans of The Hunger Games’, I may have rolled my eyes. But, I liked the book cover, and decided to give it a try. And you know what, I’m glad I did.

It took me a little while to get fully into the book. I liked Duce, but our relationship started out slowly since we don’t have much in common. I have never lived underground, although I have lived in basement apartments for many years… and that is almost the same thing. πŸ˜‰ Nor have I ever lived in a postapocalyptic world where one is limited to 3 job descriptions and only lives for a max of 40 years. Clearly my life experience hasn’t been very exciting. πŸ™‚ But, slowly and surely, Duce grew on me.Β  She’s a fiesty character, and is very interesting to watch as she trys to make sense of the new world rapidly unfolding around her. It wasn’t until things really started falling apart for Duce and her fellow hunter Fade, though, that I really started to sit up and pay attention. Unfortunately, as far as I was concerned, the book ended just as things really started to get good. Thank goodness it’s a series!!

So like I’ve indicated with my tags, this book is pretty action packed. It moves along quite quickly, especially in the latter half of the book, and there isn’t an epic amount of time spent on describing the local flora and fauna (yes J.R.R. Tolkien I’m talking to you!). So if you’re a fan of the action, this is another good pick for you.

And finally… like you didn’t see this coming right???… the Freaks that I mention in the summary? They’re so much like Zombies it’s unreal. Flesh-eating, blood-lusting, ravenous Zombies. (Amazeballs!) I’m sorry, I know this is a bit of a spoiler, but seriously dudes it is such a selling point for the book, I had to mention it! I would not have rolled my eyes if the tag-line on the front of the book had said ‘for fans of The Hunger Games and Zombies’! I would have been all over this book so fast it’s head would have spun. Well had it had one that is. *Ahem* Anyhoo… so if you happen to like Zombies, I suggest that you pick this sucker up. And from how Ms. Aguirre leaves things at the end of this book, I feel confident in saying that you’re going to want to pick up the second book when it comes out in 2012 (beware the spoilers through the link!).

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

Enclave, you get 4 out of 5, and most of that is because of the Zombies. Not going to lie.

However, had I not already made up my mind to give it this rating, I might have made it 5 out of 5 after watching this rather impressive book trailer. This takes the Gone trailer and just blows it right out of the water! WIN. πŸ™‚

Just FYI, I don’t remember the book being quite so charged with sexual tension… I think they’ve Hollywooded the trailer up a tad. Figures. But still awesomesauce right?? And who else thinks that the dude they have playing Fade looks a wee bit like Heath Ledger???

How to get this book:

  1. book
  2. e-audiobook

Also, if you’re into Zombies and would like to see how they mesh with a work of classic literature, I suggest you pick up Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Oh book mash-ups, you make me so happy! *tear*

Finally, and this is not my find… all credit must go to my Zombie Apocalypse-Prepared boyfriend, there is this brilliant house. You may want to pick one up for the family … just in case. What a totally brilliant use of form and function. Frank Lloyd Wright would be proud. (Or not. I don’t know. I just know he was an architect. Sue me. :D)

I am a child of the 80’s. I even have a shirt to prove it.

t-shirt with Rainbow Bright image and "Made in the 80's" textIt’s not this one… but close enough. πŸ˜‰

This means that certain things resonate with me that might not resonate with you, despite the resurgence of 80’s inspired fashion. For example: He-Man, She-Ra, Fraggle Rock, The Muppet Show, Cookie Monster before they made cookies a sometime food… really the list goes on and on. There are things that you really did just have to be there to appreciate. 80’s fashion would be one. I saw it once, I don’t need to see it again. And yes, I know I sound like my mother… but trust me, you’ll end up feeling this way some day too. And then I will come and do the told you so dance for you. Again. πŸ˜‰

So I’m curious to see what you think of this week’s book. It resonated with me big time, but I want to know if that is because I was a teenager just like Jessica when Y2K happened and therefore this period in time feels homey to me.

So without further ado, here is this week’s offering:

image of book cover for 'Sloppy Firsts' by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Summary: Jessica has lost one of the most important people in her teenaged life to tragedy. No, Hope (her best friend in the world) didn’t die. But Hope’s brother did. Causing her parents to go INSANE and separate Hope and Jessica by moving really really far away. All that is left for them is to keep in touch through phone calls and emails, but that really just isn’t enough to help keep Jessica from going nuts. So she starts a diary in order to keep a handle on her lonely and crazy life. And does it ever get crazy. High school. Always surprising isn’t it?

Review:

I love, love, LOVED Jessica Darling. She felt totally real and relateable. Had Jessica been a real girl and gone to my high school, I totally would have been her super good friend… or hated her guts. Hard to say. And I know what you’re thinking: ‘What does she mean she would have been her friend or hated her??? This makes no sense!!’ And you’re right. But what does make sense in high school I ask you? From what I recall, nothing makes sense AT ALL!!

So using this logic, I would have found Jessica to be totally in sync with how I was feeling and what I was thinking about our peers or I would have found her to be Jessica Not-So-Darling at all. I would have wondered what the heck her problem was and why she was so darn mopey all the freaking time. (This is why you could not pay me to go back to high school btw. It was a time of vast extremes… and I’m good just revisiting that world through books and movies from time to time. Much less painful. :D)

Anyhoo, clearly I felt that Megan McCafferty did a bang-up job on this book. Hence the gushing. πŸ˜‰ It’s written as emails and diary entries from Jessica to Hope … although along the way Jessica realizes that she’s put things in the journal she doesn’t want Hope to know about at all. There’s a boy that both repels and fascinates Jess, and then there are her ‘friends’… and I felt that all of these characters were very well written and believable. As was the plot.

Basically, it’s just a really great story about being in high school and all of the experiences and feelings that go along with that time in a person’s life.

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

This book totally deserves a 4 out of 5. Thank you Megan McCafferty for Jessica Darling… and for having the same first name as me. πŸ™‚

How to get this book:

  1. e-book

This is the first book in Megan’s ‘Jessica Darling’ series. You’ve got access to the whole series through OverDrive… but I’ll link it up for you, just to make it easy. πŸ™‚

And, just because I can, here are some links to my fav high school movies. πŸ™‚ Let me know what I’ve missed and what your favourites are!

Man I like a lot of movies eh??Β  πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚

*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? πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚ You dodged a bullet Mr Patterson… carry on. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰

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!!!!!!