Category Archive: The Book Shelf Reviews

Jun 17

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

I just posted by review on Every Day by David Levithan because I just read Invisibility by him today. The parallels are strong.

About the Book
Stephen is invisible. He’s been invisible since birth (how that birth went, I’m not so sure I want to know) and no one has ever been able to see him. He lived with his mother for the first fifteen years of his life, and then she died… and he’s been alone ever since.

Enter Elizabeth. (Also know as Jo, Josie, Liz, that girl, etc.) She’s just moved to New York City from Minnesota (and she says it correctly) and she’s bringing stuff up to their apartment and while trying to get the key in the door, she drops bags of stuff onto the ground. And then gets pissed when Stephen doesn’t at least offer to help pick it up.

He’s like “You see me?” and she’s like “Durr” and thus begins their fragile little romance. He manages to keep it a secret from her – that he’s invisible to rest of the world – until she tricks him into meeting her brother, the kind-hearted (and gay, because David Levithan wrote this) brother Laurie. Laurie can’t see Stephen, and this kinda forces him to come out (haha, get it?) and come clean to Elizabeth about his condition.

This sends the trio of them into the magical underworld of NYC, where they discover that there are cursecasters (that’s why Stephen is invisible) and spellseekers (which is why Elizabeth can see Stephen) and suddenly, it’s a race to see who’s going to finish first.

Was it any good?
Good question. I loved Every Day and I loved Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. I though Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Boy Meets Boy were okay. I have to put this one somewhere in the middle of my David Levithan readings. It wasn’t great, but it was better than okay.

What really threw me was the supernatural aspect of the book. It’s a surprisingly similar set-up to Every Day, but the supernatural aspect totally threw me for a loop. I wasn’t expecting it at all – and when he came out to her not even half way through the book, I was rather dumbfounded on what was going to happen. So in a way, I liked that surprise aspect.

On the other hand, it was a little annoying. One of the biggest challenges of creating a fantasy world is that you have to create a fantasy world, not just part of it. And I feel like only part of it was done here. There is a huge world that we got a glimpse of, but not enough of.

Okay, if you name your male child “Louise”, what do you expect? Though I found him to be a good comic extra, and his budding relationship with Sean was cute. And the sisterly love and protection that Elizabeth had was nice and it helped further her character well. :)

Final Verdict
B+ or an A-

The cover is brilliant though. Bravo to whoever designed it.

Jun 17

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan was sooo much better than the last solo book I had read by him (Boy Meets Boy). And here’s why.

Every Day, “A” wakes up in a new body. He’s done it for his entire life – as an infant, it was just something normal, something that happened – but as he grew older, ideas of “tomorrow” confused him. How could you plan for a tomorrow where you could be anywhere? It’s at this point that he realized he was special – he was alone.

So he (or she, depending on the day) continued living life. He’d mindlessly go through days as teenagers. He stayed in the same age bracket, so he never woke up as an old woman or mid-life crisis-prone man, but as a kid and then a teenager. He’d take tests, do homework, whatever. It was just monotonous. He had no reason to connect to anyone, because he wouldn’t see them again.

But then one day, he wakes up in the body of this big ole jackass. And for some reason, A decides to give Rhiannon (jackass’s girlfriend) a good day. They skip school, they go to the beach… and he falls in love. Something he’s refused to do before.

The next few days, he manages to find Rhiannon somehow. And then he finally confesses to her what he is. That he switches bodies everyday, that’s he’s the same person but at the same time completely different.

The story follows A and him trying to convince Rhiannon that they can be together, that they can have a true relationship.

David Levithan did an amazing job here. He made A’s story so painful – he’s so tuned out, he’s cold – except when it comes to Rhiannon. Their journey – because they both learn things about humanity – is heartbreaking, because it’s so obvious that anything like this would be a huge challenge. How can she love someone that’s never the same?

A core question of the book is what makes up a human. A has his memories, his own separate persona, but without a body, is he really human? And can he really love a girl?

I did a presentation on this for class. My professor said “Greg?” and I just sat there, and then the girl in front of me stood up and said “I’m Elizabeth today.” and sat down. Next, the girl behind me stood up and said “I’m Becca today.” and then sat down. And then I began, from my seat. I didn’t stand up until halfway through my presentation – I was being like A, hiding among the crowd. I pleaded with the class that I didn’t want to do this, I didn’t mean to steal anyone’s body… I was just borrowing it. And not to hate me for it.

The odd thing is… if A came and borrowed my body for the day, I’m not sure how I would react.

Apr 27

Back to reviewing

As my schooling (finally) winds down, I will once again have time to do what I enjoy the most… read! I’ve requested a number of books from NetGalley, so I’m excited.

The current ones I have on my Kindle:

  • Dare You To by Katie McGarry
  • There Are Reasons Noah Packed no Clothes by Robert Jacoby (I’ve actually tried starting this one, and I am having a hard time… it’s weird)
  • True by Erin McCarthy
  • Burning by Elana Arnold
  • Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman
  • Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur
  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
  • Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather Reid

I’ve also got a bit of a backlog of books that I’d like to talk about that I’ve read over the semester.

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Day of Tears by Julius Lester
  • I Am J by Cris Beam
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman
  • My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
  • Absolutely Positively Not by David LaRochelle
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Greene (I’ve also picked up Looking For Alaska, but I haven’t read it yet. Fault in Our Stars was amazing though!)

And while it’s not a YA title, I also want to talk about Carmen Martin Gaite’s The Back Room (El cuarto de atras), because I’m actually doing a paper on it. It’s an interesting book.


So yeah… not this week, probably, but soon, I’m going to start flooding this blog with reviews about BOOKS. I am beyond excited about this. I’ve really missed being able to read freely. There’s been too much bullshit this semester.

Oct 31

Fitz by Mick Cochrane

Book Read: April 2012
Review Written: April 23, 2012
Review to be Posted: 2 weeks early (October 31)
Book Release: November 13, 2012 by Random House Children’s Books

It’s really depressing that I won’t be able to post this for MONTHS ON END. But I’m going to give this book a good 5/5, so trust me – it’s worth waiting for.

The book is set in the Twin Cities – which, by the way, is where I live – and that already set it up perfect in my mind. I was able to mentally follow the route that the story takes. It’s really cool to read a piece set in your home turf, ya know? (Especially since, when I read this/am writing this, I am in Spain)

The tagline describes the book really well: A father. A son. A gun.

Fitz (short for Fitzgerald, yes, that one) lives with his mom and has no clue who his dad is. Well, he didn’t, but he does now. And he’s been doing a pretty good job of stalking him lately – he knows his every last elitist move. You see, his dad is a well-off lawyer, doing business right in town. And he has never made any attempt to get to know Fitz.

He’s pissed.

So, one day (perfectly planned) he essentially pulls a gun to his father’s head, and then orders him around town so that they can have some father/son bonding time. They get a great day – go to Como Zoo, eat lunch, and just talk.

What happens? You’ll have to read it to find out. It’s not all that predictable, which is a relief.

One thing I liked about this, besides the location (:D) is one of the secondary characters, aptly named Caleb. He works as a bit of humor relief, but at the same time, helps ground the story around Fitz. He serves as someone opposite – Fitz appears to the world to be fine and dandy (at the same time as he is planning on kidnapping his father by gunpoint) and Caleb is nutso to the world, but seems to have a deeper understanding.

The backstory that finds itself woven in is also nice.

I plan on picking this up in print when I see it come out. I highly suggest you do that now. Amazon is taking pre-orders, so I wouldn’t suggest waiting. :)

Apr 23

Chase in Shadow by Amy Lane

Book Read: April 2012
Review Written: April 23, 2012
Review to be Posted: Now
Book Release: February 24, 2012 by Dreamspinner Books

Uhm. Wow. I don’t know how to even start talking about this.

First off, be aware that this would probably fall under the “Gay Porn” category in the bookstore. It’s got its share of gay sex, some of it pretty graphic. Well written, I might add.

Amy Lane wove a very interesting story, where Chase/Chance (real/porn name) comes into acceptance of his sexuality via the weirdest way possible: he becomes a porn star. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of people come to me with sexuality questions, and I never even considered suggesting to them to work it out by becoming a porn star. Uh, wow.

So the book starts out about 3/4 of the way through the story, and then cuts to the beginning. We’re given a sex scene – not knowing who either of them are – and then it’s to a normal intro. Ehhh? But it all makes sense, because that scene is key in what happens later on.

Lane did an amazing job with her two main characters, they were pretty damn real. Chase and Tommy. The others, while important, pale in comparison to these two, because the story really is their love story. Or at least what appears to be their love story.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, assuming you are willing (wanting?) to read gay sex scenes, or maybe get a glimpse at the porno life. It’s a very interesting premise for a book, I have to say that.

There is very little, if any, wide public appeal. If say, my dear friend Priscilla read this, she would be cringing and going “Ahh!! MY EYES!” while I had a very hard time putting it down. (It was very awkward reading this in public…..!)

I gift… a 4/5


Oh, and fucking hot cover.

Apr 23

Zero by Tom Leveen

Book Read: April 2012
Review Written: April 23, 2012
Review to be Posted: Immediately
Book Release: April 24, 2012 by Random House Children’s Books

It’s out tomorrow! Ahh!!!

Zero is an artist. Depending on who you talk to, she has a couple different names. Amanda (according to the school rosters), Amy (according to her mother), and to rest of the world… Zero. Because when everything is added up together, she still equals zero.

Thus begins the artist’s story of coming into her own. It’s a relatively straight forward coming of age story, but don’t take that the wrong way. It has its own charms and quirks.

For instance, at the beginning, Zero is in the middle of a fight with her best/only friend. Why? We don’t find out until quite a ways in, but it’s not expected.

The boytoy is also an interesting guy. Wait, no, I take that back – he’s rather bland. He’s supposed to be a musician with a not-so-great past. His dad was in a band way back that scored a Gold. And then the band fell apart. His mom is off in her own little world.

The story twists the above two personal plot lines with Zero’s art wants. She wants to get into the Chicago Art Institute (which she’s never actually seen before, btw) because her favorite art teacher went there. She got accepted no prob, but got denied a scholarship. So she’s going to the local community college to get somewhere. It’s there that she meets the most annoying art teacher known to man, but Zero grows to like her… in a way.

The story weaves these three storylines together to create the book, which follows Zero’s summer after graduation. Where she starts isn’t anywhere close to where she ends.

I don’t know. The book was okay, I guess. It wasn’t one of the “Can’t put it down” but it wasn’t a “Need to put it down” either. Somewhere in between, where you want to know what happens to her. One of the most interesting parts of it was the descriptions of Zero’s works. She lives in Phoenix, and Leveen (the author, btw) paints us (haha, get it?) some beautiful scenery with his words. It sounds like an amazing place to see.

It’s worth a rental from the library, or if you have a decent coupon, pick it up. Amazon’s letting you save 30%, and I’d say that it’s worth the $12. Pick it up if you get a chance. :)


Apr 22

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

Book Read: March 24, 2012
Review Written: March 25, 2012
Review to be Posted: April 22, 2012

So, I’ve been reading some Galleys again, and the first one I picked (though this review won’t be published for a month… urgh) is Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen. It’s due to be released May 22, 2012 and you can see the pre-order link in to the little box to the side.

In some ways, I suggest hitting that Pre-order button NOW and in others say DO NOT TOUCH.

Within the first few chapters, any readers of Cassie Clare’s City of ___ series will note some similarities. I’m sure there’s also shared ideas between a number of YA fantasy books, but this is one that I particularly like and was reminded of… anyways, continuing on.

It’s written in first person, and our narrator is Sam. That’s short for Samantha, not Samuel, btw. She’s a plain and rather boring girl. Short and just there. You know the type. She has a friend named Carly (I couldn’t help but imagine Miranda Cosgrove, though Carly isn’t described at all like her… haha) who is just as much of a nobody.

The story kicks off when Stephen, Sam’s OMG SO HOT crush, takes her upstairs and asks if she wants him to kiss her – dur, of course. He does, and it’s kinda weird… and then he leaves her there. After passing out (quite the kiss, eh?) she heads home and that’s when she runs into crazy homeless(?) boy who calls himself Bishop. And as soon as she touches him, he’s no longer crazy.

He’s the first of a crew of angels (and demons) who are in Trinity (the town) to stop the spread of a disease – humans who have had their souls sucked out by a kiss. They’re called grays – and Sam is one.

They gotta stop this. To do so, Bishop needs to find his team – a task which he needs Sam for. And Sam needs to find out how to get her soul back. Because she’s kinda not liking this hunger that’s building up inside of her. And it’s not just for food. She wants some soul on the side.

So what’s the good and the bad?

The good… it’s an interesting story and once I got past how I felt like I was reading more Cassie Clare (I keep wanting to call Sam, Clary) I got really into it. I read the entire thing during the two three hour bus rides I had yesterday. I really liked the characters – the interaction between the Head Angel and Head Demon is fun. There is a lot of development to come with those two.

The bad… I feel like I know what’s going to happen. Like I said, it read like a Cassie Clare. So I’m wondering if Bishop/Sam are going to end up as siblings. ~(x-x~)

Also… IT IS THE FIRST OF A SERIES. So now I have to wait for the next flippin’ book to come out!!! Ahhhhh.

So yes, I’d suggest getting it. But I might also suggest waiting until the series is finished, so you’re not stuck hanging. That’s one of the reasons I’ve refused to read any of the new Cassie Clare books. (I haven’t read Clockwork Angel or City of Fallen Souls because I don’t want to have to wait!)

Rating… 4/5

Mar 19

I Am Tama, Lucky Cat

So, if you follow me on Twitter (which you should!!!) you probably noticed this tweet, a few weeks back:
Just read a galley of “Tama, the Lucky Cat” to be published by @PeachtreePub – absolutely gorgeous!!!!! :):):)

It was through this really cool service, Netgalley where people in the book business (reviewers, book sellers, etc.) have a chance to read early editions so that we can write reviews. Since I review (not much, but I want to do more!) and work in a bookstore (The school Bookstore!) I decided to sign up.

You go and request various titles, and the first one that I got accepted into reading was I Am Tama, Lucky Cat by Wendy Henrichs, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi.

It is at this point that I encourage you to look to the left, and see the cover on the Amazon listing. There’s your first taste of this piece of beauty.

It’s based on a Japanese legend, where a cat finds a broken down temple. He lives with the priest there, and they’re quite content. However, one rainy day, the cat goes outside and sits on the porch. Up comes a samurai, who upon seeing the temple, decides he’d be happier (and drier!) staying under a tree.

Tama, as he had been christened, raised his paw up, beckoning the samurai and his horse forward. The samurai comes forward, and right then, lightning strikes the tree and a huge branch falls down – right where the samurai had been.

In essence, Tama saved this samurai’s life. In thanks, the samurai restored the temple and helped it to prosper.

The writing is gorgeous, and the illustrations complement it PERFECTLY. I’m no art guy, but I’m pretty sure they are watercolors, and each page is full of this full-color, gorgeous pictures. I’d post more from the book, but I’m not sure if it’s legal. You’ll just have to wait ’til August to see them!

Yeah, we’re going to have to wait until August for the book to come out, but you’re welcome to pre-order on Amazon. Link’s above :)

But continuing on, each page is full of these spreads, picturing each sentence, bringing each and every line to life. And it all fits under the Japanese legend. When the lightning strikes, it’s said to be thrown by two Gods in the sky, and we’re shown pictures of these gholish characters.

It’s being published by Peachtree Publishers and is due out on August 1, 2011. Tweet at them and let them know you’re looking forward to it! :) They replied to me!

Mar 19

Flash Burnout

While back, Heidi Kling, author of the book Sea, tweeted a recommendation list. As you can see from the link, one of them was Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan.

I favorited that tweet, and when I finally had the Oomph to do something about it, I ordered the book.

Thanks to Amazon’s fast 2 day shipping, I got it pretty quick, and delve into it.

The story focuses on Blake. He’s got two girls in his life – Shannon, his girlfriend. She’s pretty, gorgeous, everything a boy could ask for. He might just possibly be in love. And then there’s Marissa. She’s a friend from his photo class. Just a friend.

But that all changes when he goes to a badder part of town and takes a picture of a passed out lady on the sidewalk. Marissa sees the picture – it’s her mom. And thus begins the search, in more ways than one, for Marissa’s mom.

As Blake gets pulled farther and farther into the personal life of Marissa, his relationship with Shannon becomes a little shakey. But it’s okay – they love each other, and they’ll get through it all… right?

Blake’s a boy we can all relate to. He’s just trying to get through life – maybe get laid on the side. But there are things that just have to be dealt with, things that he can’t turn away from. When Marissa’s life starts to slowly fall apart, Blake is going to be the one to pick it back up. It’s just a matter of if what he does will endanger his own life’s stability…

The book is good. You could almost say it’s a series of photographs. We have Blake and Shannon, and then Marissa’s mom, and Blake and Marissa… and Marissa and her mom. We have Blake’s brother and the screwed up girl he’s “seeing”, who’s a piece of pie herself.

I don’t know what else to say. It’s a good book – very much worth the $8 that Amazon wants for it.

When I tweeted Heidi to let her know that I was reading it – and enjoying it – a few days ago, and she replied
@aredmoon So glad you love. Did you hear the author recently passed away? So very sad. Her book is a masterpiece, will live on forever.

So, Lisa, here’s a post-mortem “Bravo!” for you. I hope you keep writing stories up there in Heaven, so that we’ll all have something good to read when we join you. :)

Mar 10

Songs for a Teenage Nomad

So, here’s my first review in quite awhile: Songs of a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson.

First off, if you don’t like music, don’t even bother. If you like music, it’s okay. If you LOVE music, especially older stuff, you’ll get an amazing kick out of the book.

The book centers around a girl, Calle. She lives with her mother and Boyfriend/Husband of the Week. They’ve moved more times than Calle can talk, and it’s always after the guy breaks her mom’s heart.

This time she’s moved to a spot where she actually finds some friends that seem worth keeping. She fits into the drama clique; she’s helping to build the set (eventually earning title, I believe, of Assistant Stage Manager) and just getting to know the guys and gals.

The book revolves around Calle’s interactions with her mother – why do they have to move so much? What’s so wrong with her that all the guys leave? – interactions with her friends – what do you do when your friend likes you, and you don’t like him back? – and then with the other oddball guys. You have Sam, the jock who is more than he seems. (Possibly) And Cass, this rather bitchy type girl, who might have a bit of a heart.

Calle wraps this all together in her journal, which is how each chapter begins. She keeps a song journal, in which she writes down a song and then what was happening when she heard it. So, when she hears the song again, she’ll be reminded.

That’s the key music part of it. Each chapter has this song, and it’s kind of an overbearing theme. So, if you’re into older music, you’ll really be able to appreciate it. If you’re not so much, but you at least *know* them, like me, it’s a nice little extra.

So, yeah – go grab it. :) I’ll give it a 3.5/5!

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