Wednesday, February 29, 2012

book review: the rivals by daisy whitney

Book Review: The Rivals by Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books

When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.
It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.
As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

The Rivals is a sequel to Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds.

I'm tempted to say that the plot of The Rivals was even better than The Mockingbirds. Whatever. I'll say it. The plot of The Rivals was even better than The Mockingbirds. Keep in mind that's a pretty opinion-based statement.

Anyway, the thing I liked about The Rivals is that it's not so one-tiered as the first book. Instead of just one plotline that consumes Alex, a variety of different things are going on in her life and at Themis. This multi-focused approach was exactly what I was looking for, and I really enjoyed it!

As in the first book, Whitney keeps her amazing writing style intact. Of course, that writing style would be praised for such a clear voice for her characters. The concept remains strong throughout the novel, and I all in all really enjoyed it.

I hope there's another one! :)

So the verdict...

Daisy Whitney hits another homerun with The Rivals. Witty, imaginative, and maybe even better than the series opener, The Rivals is a novel that will keep you wanting to always turn that next page.

'Til next time!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

book review: the mockingbirds by daisy whitney

Book Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.
Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way-the Themis way. So when Alex Patrick is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: Stay silent and hope someone helps, or enlist the aid of the Mockingbirds-a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

I'll be honest. The only reason I picked up The Mockingbirds is because the cover is just amazing. I mean, look at how that red just pops! It nearly begs a reader to pluck it off the shelf and read it. That's exactly what I did! You should too!

But, as you can read from the overview above, it's an intriguing concept, no? Furthermore, for those who haven't read it, the Mockingbirds is an underground justice organization at a boarding school. Of course, the plot lives up to this fantastic concept and just gives a smash of a book. I can't say anything bad about it in aspect of plot, characters, or storylines. It was all "legit," if you're the kind of person to use that word.

Whitney's writing style wasn't phenomenal, but it does serve the purpose of the book and gives a realistic voice to Whitney's character, Alex. And really, isn't that what we want in a book written in first person? The writing style was natural. I could hear Alex through the book's prose; that was important to me. Additionally, this was a nice change because some authors, regardless of whether their character calls for it or not, write everyone as these insanely intellectual and witty individuals. Newsflash! 99.8% of the population is neither witty or intellectual (I just made that stat up. Don't quote me on it... but I think you understand my point). Although that kind of narrative is essential in some cases, it isn't for many characters. I'm glad to see that The Mockingbirds didn't overstep its boundaries and stuck with having a well-developed protagonist.

One last point. The whole idea of the Mockingbirds is that they act as the Boo Radley and Atticus Finch (You better get this reference, or go and check out To Kill A Mockingbird right now.) of Themis. I love it when books reference "canon" works, don't you?!

Overall, I enjoyed this book tremendously. A review for the second book (The Rivals) is coming soon! :)

The verdict (which is again appropriate in the "case" of The Mockingbirds)...

Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds deals with tough subjects with natural elegance. It shouldn't be missed.

'Til next time!

Friday, February 10, 2012

book review: an abundance of katherines by john green

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Publisher: Penguin Group, Inc.

When it comes to relationships, everyone has a type. Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. He has dated–and been dumped by–19 Katherines. In the wake of The K-19 Debacle, Colin–an anagram-obsessed washed-up child prodigy–heads out on a road trip with his overweight, Judge Judy- loving friend Hassan. With 10,000 dollars in his pocket and a feral hog on his trail, Colin is on a mission to prove a mathematical theorem he hopes will predict the future of any relationship (and conceivably win the girl).An Abundance of Katherines was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Honor book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also named one of the books of the year by Booklist, Horn Book, and Kirkus.

If you look at my latest couple posts, you'll see that I've created a trend of John Green works. As I have set my sights on some other titles, I'll be taking a break of John Green for the time being. I do feel, however, that An Abundance of Katherines was a good title to end on, though.

The thing about John Green books is that they're just my reading style. An intellectual group of teens cope when their tiny world is shaked. They use logic, philosophy, math, etc. to help in this aspect. I assure you that "Abundance" was the same way. Seeing as the protagonist is a genius/prodigy, it made for a good story simply stuffed with a billion facts, but I feel that it felt short on the usual zing and verve that I've grown to love in Green books.

The main problem (and quite possibly only one) was that "Abundance" is written in third(ish) person. That being said, everytime I picked up the book, I was confused for maybe about a half of a page, trying to adjust to this change from Green's usual writing style. I also felt a disconnect from Colin, the main character. I could understand the story fine, and intriguing as it was, I felt no sympathy for the recent dumpee. I've come to the conclusion that this makes me sad.

The one thing that Green is so good at, though, is coming up with these attractive female counterparts for his protagonist. I saw it in Looking for Alaska (Alaska Young), Paper Towns (Margot Roth Spiegelman), and the protagonist of The Fault in Our Stars (Hazel Grace Lancaster), and it was also apparent in "Abundance" (the beautiful Lindsey Lee Wells). This may factor into the fact that John Green is a guy writing from a guy's perspective... or in Fault writing about a girl.

In the end, I rather enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines, although the other John Green books would leap off the shelf for my lending first. And heads up: if you're not much one for calculus, you may not enjoy this book especially; one of the main plot points is Colin trying to find a mathematical formula for relationships. Given, that's not what it's all about, but it does take up a majority of the book.

And the verdict (which is appropriate because Colin's friend loves Judge Judy)...

John Green offers a brief look at recovering and rediscovering what truly matters in life. Another of his books is worth more than a quick skim or glance.

'Til next time!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Please, sir, I want some more."

Well, well, well. Mr. Charles John Huffam Dickens was born 200 years ago today. Let us take some time to recount his literary mastery through memorable tidbits of his thought throughout his 58 years.

Picture from
"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." -A Tale of Two Cities

"Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!” -Great Expectations

“I wear the chain I forged in life....I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” -A Christmas Carol

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” -David Copperfield

“It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.” -Oliver Twist

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” -Nicholas Nickleby

“No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.” -Our Mutual Friend

Don't just skim over them. Read them, really read them. They're good, I promise you... Maybe you could make a birthday cake that looks like books for Charles today. That would be fun. Then you could make a cake and eat it, too. At any rate...

'Til next time!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

book review: looking for alaska by john green

Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green
Publisher: Penguin Group

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter's whole life has been one big non-event. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-butboring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into a new life, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

I recently learned that Looking for Alaska was the brilliant John Green's first mainstream book. Unlike other authors whose first books seem exactly like a first book (or series, ahem Suzanne *cough* Collins), John Green does wonders with "Alaska."

As you can see from the overview above, Miles goes to a boarding school called Culver Creek, gets nick-named Pudge, and meets the amazing Alaska Young. And let me tell you, she is fantastic. I just said this in my last post about Green's latest book, The Fault in Our Stars, that I rather enjoy his use of male protagonists and stories. I assure you. This first read does not disappoint. In fact, I was rather surprised that it was his first book since it's so well written.

At any rate, what I most liked about this book (among many, MANY other things) are the characters. It takes something special for certain characters to be remembered. In this book, it's pretty hard to forget them. It's their "quirks!" I tell you! :) According to kids at Culver Creek, everybody has something that they do. For Miles/Pudge, it's memorizing last words (I loved how this fit into the plot). For Chip/The Colonel, it's just memorizing things. For Alaska, it's poetry.

It also made me laugh out loud. (ahem... this is an indicator of a fantastic book for you readers out there... I hope you agree.) I seriously had to put myself in seclusion when Lara stands up and yells in her hard-to-speak-"i"'s accent towards the end... Oh, man! If you read it, you know what part I mean! :D I'm laughing just thinking about it.

The final verdict...

Despite being his first book, Looking for Alaska has John Green delivering a modern YA classic that will have pranksters, planners, and parents scrambling for centuries to come.

book review: the fault in our stars by john green

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. What is this book? A tearjerker, a novel, a hybrid of philosophy and death and happiness and life, a perfection in imperfection, blue, and the truth.

Picking up Green's latest published material, I felt a pang of... sadness? Discomfort? I don't know. I do believe that one of my favorite aspects about Green's books is that he has strong male protagonists that are real. And when I say real, I mean REAL. In a world where very few YA books have this, I rather enjoy it.

But as I started reading "Fault," I was happily amused. It too is about real things, incredible things that make a reader ponder. It's about death and dying and honesty. In the end, it wasn't about the fact that Green was writing from the perspective of a 17-year-old girl, but that, like always, he was writing about the thoughts and actions that create a life (a tragic one, in this case).

That being written, I enjoyed the novel to the nth degree (and that's a lot). Although it seems like Green did struggle with the mindset of a female point of view in the immediate beginning, it did not detract from the story. And just a heads up to John Green fans: don't expect this to be some sappy, lovey-dovey book because it's about cancer and a futile relationship and what not; it's not. It's just not. It has the same wit, flow, and vigor as Green's other books.

The final verdict...

The Fault in Our Stars works not only as an awe-inspiring story of cancer, love, and loss, but as a perfect constellation aligned between its first and last words. John Green outdoes himself again!
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