14. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, 352 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/11/2012

Creepy photos, strange deserted island with a creepy haunted looking house, weird children with possible magical powers. Although I knew I could be creeped out from reading this book, I couldn’t help myself. From the strange vintage photos to the storyline, this book was interesting from beginning to end. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland in a way. Jacob’s experiences and adventures had that same surrealist quality that Alice had. What interested me the most was the story behind the haunting vintage photos found throughout the book. The author actually found the photos and wrote the story to “fit” the photographs he found. He wanted photos that stirred various emotions from the reader, so he and a group of friends scoured anything from flea markets to estate sales looking for the oddest and creepiest photos to help him write his story.

Full of suspense, I couldn’t seem to put this book down. With a little bit of romance and a whole lot of strangeness, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made into a Tim Burton movie.  Readers who like Alice in Wonderland adventure and Tim Burton quirkiness would love this book.

10. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels, 322 pages, read by Andrea, on 05/09/2012

Barb is a divorcee who has lost everything. She has no money, and the car she drives needs more oil than a Mac truck. To make matters worse, her children have been taken away from her. Her controlling ex-husband (or experson according to Barb) has taken what she wants most, continuing to lord over her even after their disastrous marriage. A series of strange events leads Barb to make more money than she would have thought possible. She moves into a house once lived in by Vladimir Nabokov and finds what she believes to be a lost manuscript of his. A very odd entrepreneurial opportunity presents itself, giving her the strength and, oddly enough, the resources, to fight back for what she wants instead of always listening to what everyone else thinks she needs.

This book was rather odd. I didn’t love it, but the messages within the book were good. What was interesting for me was it was written in the voice of Barb. It is almost like the ramblings that go on inside your own head, so although she did come off as sounding a little crazy, it wasn’t too strange, as everyone has those crazy inner thoughts. It presents Barb as a 40 year old mother who is trying desperately to fit into a community that sees her experson as a god. She is just a woman who wants her children back, and is willing to try anything to make that happen. I liked the parallelism between Barb and how the book was written. In the beginning of the book, the writing seems very unorganized, as is her life. As the story progresses, Barb begins to understand herself and what she wants in her life. The book becomes more structured and clear, which to me was an interesting way to write a book.

30. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Contemporary Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller/Suspense

The Maze Runner by James Dashner, 374 pages, read by Andrea, on 04/29/2012

After reading the post-apocalyptic Hunger Games series, I decided to start reading James Dashner’s Maze Runner series. There were several similarities between the two series. This book, like the Hunger Games series, is all about sacrifice, survival, and death. It is also going to the big screen. However, there were a few differences that made me like the Hunger Games much more. Although I liked The Maze Runner’s plot, I found Dashner’s writing style to be a little irritating. The creepy maze, desperation to find a way out, and suspense of the situations made me continue on, but the frequent breaks in the flow of the book (each chapter averaged about 2-4 pages at the most) seemed to chop the book up a little awkwardly. Overall, it was a good idea for a book and I am looking forward to learning what happens to the characters next.

23. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Laarson, 590 pages, read by Andrea, on 04/21/2012

Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist specializing in financial issues in major companies, has been convicted and sentenced to prison for libel. Part owner of Millenium magazine, his reputation as a journalist and that of his publication is in danger. Strangely enough, just when he believes his career as a journalist is beyond saving, he receives a request from 82-year-old businessman Henrik Vanger. Vanger wants Blomkvist to use his skills as an investigative journalist to find out what happened to his great-niece over 30 years ago. To prevent any other Vanger family members from finding out, Blomkvist is to write a family chronicle to cover up his investigations. Lisbeth Salandar, a bright young woman with a few problems in her past and present life, is a quirky, tattooed, underweight computer genius who works for Milton Securities. Specializing in personal investigations, she partners up with Blomkvist to help solve Henrik’s mystery. Full of murder, suspense, and a little romance, this book was pretty interesting – especially the little twists that were worked into the storyline. A little dry in some parts, however, this book focused more on little details that would not have been necessary to understand the characters’ situations. Probably my favorite part of the book was how Laarson switched rather seamlessly from Lisbeth’s to Mikael’s point of view, giving the reader a bird’s eye view of the situations in the book. I’m not sure if the book deserved all the hype it got or not. Guess I will have to read the other two to make my final judgement on the series overall.

10. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer, 277 pages, read by Andrea, on 04/10/2012

Artemis Fowl is back again to annoy the People. This time he is trying to save his father who has been captured by the Russian Mafiya. Unfortunately, he needs help, preferably Fairy magic help. Luckily for him and unluckily for the People, LEPrecon is not in very good shape. Someone has taken over LEP’s weapon’s power source and now they are defenseless from goblin attacks. Against their better judgement Holly and Root decide to ask Artemis for his help. In turn, they will help him locate his father and get him back safe and sound to England. Not unlike the first book, the second Fowl adventure is full of witty remarks, action, and of course magic.

27. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Beekeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, 347 pages, read by Andrea, on 03/26/2012

The Beekeeper’s ApprenticeWhat if Sherlock Holmes had a female apprentice? This book explores that possibility. Mary Russell, or simply Russell to Holmes, is a highly intelligent young woman full of ambition and attitude. Holmes, although retired from the world of detective work, sees a lot of potential in Mary and decides to teach her the art of sleuthing. Friendship and eventually love for one another grows within teacher and apprentice as they experience the hardships and rewards of a sleuthing partnership.

15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Matched by Ally Condie, 366 pages, read by Andrea, on 03/15/2012

MatchedCassia is just a normal teenager excited about growing up and finding love, getting a job, and starting a family. The only problem is, she will never have the freedom to choose any of that. The Society, through decades of shaping and perfecting a sophisticated Matching system based on character traits of each individual, chooses everyone’s life for them. Utopia in disguise, the Society’s decisions are all a ruse to fully control the people of the different Provinces within Society. When Cassia receives her ideal husband at her Match Banquet, she can’t believe her luck. However, a small Society mistake makes her question whether their choice for her lifelong love could be wrong.

A 2012 Gateway Readers Award Nominee, this book is a strong reminder of how valuable the ability to choose in life is and how it feels when that gift is taken away.

15. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Multicultural Fiction, Romance

Habibi by Craig Thompson, 672 pages, read by Andrea, on 03/14/2012

HabibiThere is not enough space or time to describe how much I enjoyed this book. I can pretty much see myself prattling on about this book for years to come. Chock full of symbolism, parallelism, comparisons and contrasts, Habibi (my love) is a tale of loss and pain, but most importantly (I know it’s cliche) the power of love. Dodola, a child bride, is captured by slavers who murder her older husband. On the run, she rescues a younger slave boy, Zam, and the two become refugees together. They find a wrecked ship they decide to call home in the middle of the desert between where they escaped and the large city/corporation of Wanatolia. Dodola raises Zam as her son, and to feed them both, she prostitutes herself to the caravans that pass by their hiding place. The bond between these two becomes unbreakable even when they become separated. The Arabic calligraphy throughout the book is very interesting and the connections made between reader and Thompson’s pen can pretty much (in my humble opinion) be described as nothing less than epic.

09. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, 277 pages, read by Andrea, on 03/09/2012

Artemis FowlWhile looking for another book, I came across Artemis Fowl and couldn’t resist reading it again. I read it when it first came out several years ago and sadly my interest for the series tapered off. I decided to reread the first one and finish up the series. Artemis is basically a 12 year old technologically advanced and tactically intelligent child prodigy. Much to Artemis’s dismay, the Fowl family fortune has been tainted by years of poor choices and a few criminal run-ins. Although still quite rich, Artemis is bent on stealing a massive amount of gold from “The People” or magical fairies, dwarfs, goblins and sprites that live underground in order to fund his quest to restore the Fowl name. Dry humor is worked into the storyline through Foaly (my favorite character), a technology savvy centaur working to rescue Holly, a LEPrecon fairy who has become a kidnapping victim as part of Artemis’s scheme to snatch some fairy gold. Along with Foaly, the other members of Holly’s LEP team work frantically to save her and their people’s secrets. The book, from what I remember, was as good as the first time I read it.

06. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Drama, Fiction, Teen Books

Hate List by Jennifer Brown, 408 pages, read by Andrea, on 03/04/2012

Hate ListAlternating between the time of the actual shooting in May and in September when Valerie goes back to school (the present), this book is about a school shooting, but mostly about a teenage girl and her struggle to understand herself. Valerie is just like any other outcast. She dresses in dark colors, wears heavy eyeliner, likes the opposite of what other students enjoy. However, she is also just like any other teenage high school student as well. She is madly in love with a guy who seems to share the same interests with her and get what she is going through. She likes to go to parties, hang out with friends, go to movies. The only problem Valerie has is, the guy she is, was in love with murdered around 6 of her classmates and permanently scarred dozens more. What’s worse, most blame her for the shooting, saying she played a crucial role in the horrible event, feeding her guilt about the whole situation.

This book makes you think about who you were at age 16, who you hated, who hated you, if you were made fun of, how it made you feel. Pretty much all the insecurities you experienced at that age are dredged up. This book made me understand how serious and out of control bullying can be and that sometimes, it’s not just the bullies that are wrong. Valerie, relentlessly picked on suffers from intense anger issues as a result of her being bullied. Coming up with a hate list, as a way to “deal with” her anger, she writes down anyone or anything in the book that ticks her off. Sadly, her self absorbing and selfish personality fails to understand the effect her anger has on her boyfriend, Nick, who takes the bully victim thing to a whole other level. It outlines Valerie’s hatred for herself after the shooting, her guilt and pain, and the realization that she has to be able to accept and forgive herself before others are willing to do so. Although everything ended up being sunshine and rainbows and she was accepted back into the fold just in time for graduation, the book was very good overall. Even though things may have not worked out so perfectly in the end for someone like Valerie if she really existed, this book would really connect with someone who has been bullied or has been a bully as a teen.

06. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Teen Books

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, 390 pages, read by Andrea, on 03/02/2012

MockingjayThe last book in the Hunger Games series was rather violent. I guess I should have expected that from a society that ultimately used children’s lives for sport and entertainment. Even after her part in the Hunger Games’ arena is over, Katniss finds herself “back in the arena again”, as she is forced to face the same horrors as she did during the Games. She makes some horribly tough choices about survival, friendship, and trust. The book pretty much focused on her and her role as the face of the rebel revolution. It was more intense and detailed than the first two books. I felt as if those focused more on character development and description of the games while the last just focused on the vivid gore of the rebel revolution and their plans to expose the horrors of the Capitol. It seemed that, overall, the series was showing its readers the dangers of a leader and how vulnerable we can be to its decisions and desires.


23. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 391 pages, read by Andrea, on 02/23/2012

Catching FireI found the first book of the Hunger Games series to be a little predictable compared to this book. I was not expecting the series to take such a dark turn. I also wasn’t exactly certain how I felt about Katniss, the protagonist, either. However, with the continuation of the series, I think Katniss is a little more sensitive in this one and there were actually times where she convinced me she really was capable of being in love with Peeta, her fellow tribute. It has a little bit more romance between Katniss and Peeta and Katniss and Gale. There is a more in-depth look at how Katniss feels about her love for both guys and how she handles it. Lovely teen love. It does make the book more exciting seeing the internal battles Katniss goes through and how she has grown up since the last book. Overall, not too bad.

16. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 374 pages, read by Andrea, on 02/10/2012

The Hunger GamesI had not heard of the Hunger Games until a few weeks ago when I was doing the calendar of events for the library. I asked my sister about it and she proceeded to tell me the Hunger Games was actually part of a trilogy. Normally I don’t really like to read series of books. However, I have already started the second one and I have certainly changed my mind about series. Collins style of writing is descriptive yet easy to follow and understand. The book takes place in Panem, the ruins of what was once known as North America. Though it was once known as North America, Panem is very unlike the present-day North America we know. Divided into twelve districts, each one concentrates on a particular skill, such as mining or agriculture. The ruler district, the Capitol, rules over these twelve districts.

Probably my most favorite part of the first book is the contrast Collins creates between the Capitol and the twelve districts. The Capitol is this inhumane ruler of all the other districts. Using their unique skills, the twelve districts work while the residents of the Capitol have a stress-free life of luxury.  To show who is in control, the Capitol organizes the annual Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in an arena that is a hostile environment. Before the games, a process called The Reaping picks two children, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district other than the Capitol, who will compete in the games. The fear of the Capitol the district residents feel as a result of the Games keep a rebellion from emerging. The people and the country are described so eloquently it is no surprise that the books are being made into a movie. So far, the second book Catching Fire is just as well written and enjoyable to read as the first.


03. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Informational Book, NonFiction, Travel · Tags: , , , , ,

Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo, 321 pages, read by Andrea, on 02/03/2012

Day of HoneyDay of Honey is a celebration of food and a memoir of war and the death of many people. It is written about Ciezadlo’s life in Lebanon during its internal sectarian conflicts between Sunni and Shia muslims. I am personally interested in all information that deals with Middle Eastern countries, so I was quite excited to read this book and had particularly high expectations for it as well. Ciezadlo describes Iraqi and Lebanese people as folks not unlike Americans. She shows how, despite hardship and death, the Lebanese people have always found comfort in food. With all of the negative media portrayals of the Middle Eastern countries right now, I thought this book was another great piece of literary work to help people in the US and other parts of the world understand the war torn Middle East and its people.