Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Faust

One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the side effects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins.
Nathan says 4.5 stars...
So, the title of this book alone is worth tons of cool points. It you can't guess, this book is fraught with references to Faustian legend. I mean, the name of their school is Marlowe. I was a little taken aback with this at first. From the cover and description I thought it would be uber-creepy and serious, and it was. Then it turned into a high-school drama style story, and I was left scratching my head, and then it takes a sudden turn towards the dark and twisty once again, and I mean really twisty. The ability to both goad and intrigue readers was the book's high point. It is a suspenseful novel, that truly rethinks the nature of a Faustian deal. The characters were very well imagined, but they felt a little flat. Some of this is essential to the narrative, but I would've liked to see a bit more depth. The plot was another strong point, besides just being suspenseful, it has some heft behind it, and works on the reader in subtle ways. Overall, this is a work that puts a twist on something classic, and it succeeds brilliantly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We just wanted to tell everyone happy Thanksgiving. Today we give thanks for many things, and among them are books and great friends who read. Thanks for letting us share our thoughts with you, and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Once again, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Catching Fire

If you haven't read The Hunger Games (which you should really grab ASAP) there are spoilers here! Sorry, but they're necessary for this review!

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
Beth says 5 Stars...
I know I'm a little behind on this one, but I had to post about it. I got it from the library on Friday afternoon and it was done on Friday night. This book was amazing! I was a little bit worried after reading some mixed reviews, but it was all for naught. Collins did not fall prey to the "sophomore slump" and let down from a fantastic first book. I loved the growth of the characters in the novel, and found the change in Katniss particularly engrossing. She matured so much from the beginning to the end of the book. Instead of thinking only of herself, she began to realize that her actions stood for so much more than she intended. She came to terms with being the spark of defiance and a representative for the Districts. She deepened immensely, and became someone willing to stick to her morals and beliefs. The love triangle that began in The Hunger Games became more complicated and intense, as if it wasn't muddy enough already. I have no idea who to root for in this relationship; there need to be Team Gale and Team Peeta t-shirts. The new characters that are introduced are great as well and really balance out the existing characters beautifully.

The plot was very intriguing. There was a bit at the beginning of the book that was a summary of The Hunger Games, but that was actually rather helpful. It allowed me to get back involved in the world and story before launching into something new. I can say that the plot was nothing like I expected it would be. I thought I knew what was going to happen, and although I guessed a couple of really obvious things, the major direction of the plot was completely different from my preconceived notions. There were enough twists to shock me when I needed it, but not to the point where I was confused about what was happening. Not only did the plot blindside me, but it was so enthralling. I couldn't put the book down even though I had other things *cough*homework*cough*. I just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. The ending was a bit saddening because it just left me wanting more, and I can't get more for a long time.

Overall this book was fabulous. I loved it just as much as, and maybe more than, The Hunger Games. This is a great series for readers of all ages. It manages to send a message without preaching and captures your attention. I can't wait until the third and final book is out. If you haven't read it yet, go and get it right now.
Book from the Library

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Deadly Little Secret

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...

Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help--but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.


Beth says 4 Stars...

This book seriously creeped me out. I didn't mind it for the most part, but it was still so creepy. The chapters that were felt like pages out of the stalker's notebook were very disturbing, yet so fascinating. It really gave insight to the character, but didn't go overboard. I thought that Camelia was an interesting character, but not my favorite person. She was so unaware of everything and everyone else, particularly those who cared for her. I wanted more depth and awareness from her. Her parents were fun characters, but I feel like I just read another book with the exact same parents. I thought the plot moved along nicely, but it wasn't always clear what it was. It took it a while to get going and clarify everything, but once it happened it was fantastic. I enjoyed the suspense and the thrill of the story. I was on the edge of my seat for the last two-thirds of the book. I particularly appreciated the twists and turns; I didn't expect the ending. There was a small amount of predicatability, but that really was the only way to move the plot forward and actually have a story to tell. The characers were fun, but many of them lacked substance. I wanted more depth in everyone, and more screen time for the supporting cast. Camelia's best friends were so funny that I wanted the focus to be on them! I hope that the characters will grow a great deal throughout the rest of the series. This continues in the vein of what I expected from Stolarz, thrilling with a bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. This has the beginnings of a really fun series, and I'm excited to read the second book.

Book from the Library

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The Heart Crystal’s power has been depleted, and Imagination along with it. The people of Wonderland have all lost their creative drive, and most alarmingly, even Queen Alyss is without her powers. There is some comfort in the fact that the vicious Redd Heart seems to be similarly disabled. Amazingly, she is attempting to team up with her enemy, Alyss, in order to reclaim Wonderland from King Arch. Alyss might have no choice but to accept Redd’s overtures, especially when she begins to receive alarming advice from the caterpillar oracles.
Beth says 4.5 Stars...
I have really loved this series and am sad to see it end. The best thing about it is that it takes the Wonderland that we're all familiar with, and that some of us love, and simply turns it on its head. The characters hardly have anything in common with those from the storybooks of my childhood, but I appreciate that. Despite being different, I felt that this book did little to develop them and relied on what had been accomplished in the previous books. There was no more depth added to all of the different characters, which was very saddening. The characters could have become so much more, but that potential was never realized. This isn't to say that they were all flat and lifeless, because there was a great deal of roundness that came from the first two books in the series. I guess I'm harping on this fact because I hate it when authors rest on their laurels when it comes to character, because they, like real people, should be constantly changing. Despite this lack of change, the rest of the book was fantastic. I simply could not put it down. It was also really fun since I just finished working on a stage production of Alice in Wonderland to be reading and watching that at the same time. The plot was filled with action from beginning to end. I couldn't tear myself away, because it seemed like something new was happening on ever other page. There weren't long periods of dullness that made me feel like napping. I read it while I worked out, and it was so interesting that it made me stop thinking about how much my legs were killing me, which is no mean feat. Even though there were multiple plotlines going on at the same time it wasn't difficult to keep everything straight and see how they connected. I was enthralled by what was happening and thought that the climax was very interesting, and rather unexpected. I think that this is a rather fitting end to a really fun series. I'm sad to leave Wonderland behind, but it's time. If you haven't read this series you really should because it's a different take on a story we all know. Pick this one up for an action-packed conclusion to a super fun series.

Book from the library

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they'd never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents--and maybe the world?

Confession-I've never read any James Patterson. I know this may elicit gasps from some, but I think that situation will soon be remedied. Witch and Wizard looks like a great YA novel that has a very classic theme with a fresh take. Seriously looking forward to it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...
All I can say is dang. I loved the idea and most of the execution of this book. The first person narrative worked extremely well; it really felt as thought Micah was speaking to you. The most interesting thing was how Micah lied. After I finished the book I still wasn't sure what had happened because I didn't know if I had ever been told the truth. I loved that feeling, although it was a bit unsatisfying. Some lies were just so outlandish that I almost began to think that they were true. The characters were well done, but also skewed because the information was all coming from Micah. That wasn't a bad thing at all, but something to be aware of. They started out as stereotypical, but became a good deal more rounded by the end of the novel. I liked the characters of Micah's parents, but the problem with them was that my perception of them kept changing depending on what lie Micah was telling at the moment. I just can't really express how fascinating having a liar for a narrator was. I love to be kept guessing and I certainly was. The only thing that I think is a little bit weak is the plot. I wasn't the biggest fan of the murder mystery; it wasn't quite suspenseful enough to serve the purpose of creating a thriller. The plot then jumped around a great deal and lost some of the continuity, although a large portion of that was due to Micah attempting to give background information on her life and family. Overall, this book was well done with a unique concept. If you want something straight forward look elsewhere, but if you're looking for something that will constantly challenge your brain and what you think to be true, then pick this one up right away.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

Falling from the Incomparable Gardens in Superior Saturday, Arthur, having won the Sixth Key, landed not in the Upper House but somewhere unexpected. Alone in enemy territory, he struggles with his own sorcery-transformed mind and body as much as with his enemies.

Meanwhile, Suzy Turquoise Blue, Arthur's friend, plots to escape from her prison in Saturday's Tower while battle rages all around. Saturday's forces are pressing into the Incomparable Gardens, but are also engaged in a fierce struggle to keep the Piper and his army of Newniths at the bottom of the Upper House. On Earth, Leaf, responsible for the Sleepers from Lady Friday, struggles to cope with the aftermath of a nuclear strike and desperately needs help, especially since she herself has become a target for intruders from the House. Within the House, Nothing continues to rise and must be stopped before it can destroy the entire House and Universe.


So, there isn't really a description of this book yet. This means it's probably too early for a Waiting on Wednesday post, but we're doing it anyway. Lord Sunday is conceivably the final book in the Keys to the Kingdom series. Arthur's quest is coming to an end, and we are so excited. Parting is such sweet sorrow, but we're thinking this one will be more saccharine than sour.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Little Black Lies

Sara Black is tiptoeing across a fraying tightrope.

As the new eleventh grader at Anton High–the most elite public school in the country–she sticks out like an old VW bus in a parking lot full of shiny BMWs. But being the new kid also brings a certain advantageous anonymity.

In Anton High’s world of privilege, intelligence, and wealth, Sara can escape her family’s tarnished past and become whomever she wants.

And what’s the harm in telling a few little black lies when it can lead to popularity? That is, until another it girl at Anton becomes jealous of Sara’s social climbing.

With her balance evaporating, one small push could bring Sara crashing down.

Beth says 4 Stars...
I didn't particularly want to like this book. It was marketed as a neo-Gossip Girl, which is not something I'm too big on. Despite this I decided that I would take a chance, and it payed off. The characters were not in the least what I was expecting. Most of them had several facets, and were concerned with more than just who was partying with whom. I loved the school that they went to. Instead of a normal elitist high school, this was an elitist high school for nerds. I truly appreciated that. It brought more intrest for me than if it had been a school where the most pressing matter was what handbag was hot this season. I also thought that writing about Charlie's struggle with OCD made it much richer. There was another layer that added to charactersization and subplots. The plot was fairly interesting and moved along well. There really wasn't too much down time in this novel. The web of lies and deceptions was fascinating and gained complexity throughout the story. The writing was fine, but nothing extraordinary. It didn't blow me away and just served to move the story along instead of becoming a character in and of itself. Overall I thought this was a fun and enjoyable book. For those of you looking for some ever so slightly nerdy almost fluff this is perfect.

Book Given by Goodman Media