Saturday, October 30, 2010

Percy Jackson books

after hearing positive reviews about them, i decided to read the first three Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan.

first book: The Lightning Thief

synopsis (from Rick Riordan's website):

What if the gods of Olympus were alive in the 21st Century? What if they still fell in love with mortals and had children who might become great heroes — like Theseus, Jason and Hercules?

What if you were one of those children?

Such is the discovery that launches twelve-year-old Percy Jackson on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction – Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.

my thoughts (on all three books):

i enjoyed them. they are clearly written for kids, but i found them entertaining and creative. atypically (for me, anyway), i was able to predict what was about to happen before it did happen, but this didn't really take away from the stories. i liked the themes, plots, and characters, but again, they appeal to a younger audience than the kinds of books i typically read.

the take on Greek mythology really was the big selling point for me. i have a personal interest in Greek mythology, and i think Riordan did an admirable job of modernizing such ancient stories and making his version unique. their creativity is their strongest attribute.

bottom line: excellent children's books. i don't agree with the comparisons to Harry Potter (nothing compares to HP!!), but i would definitely recommend the Percy Jackson books to anyone looking for a good series for all ages.

my rating: 4.4

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

synopsis (from Markus Zusak's webpage):

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

my thoughts

i actually put off reading this book for a long time. i'd see it in stores, but then right next to it (or several shelves away, sometimes my attention wanders in bookstores) would be a shiny new fantasy novel!!!!

i am weak. i always picked the fantasy.

but one day i finally gave in and got this book because so many people have read it and it has such good reviews.

confession: i didn't even know what it was really about.

i also didn't know what i had been missing. this book was utterly brilliant. i could not agree more with the review i kept rereading on the cover:

"Brilliant and hugely ambitious...It's the kind of book that can be life-changing."--The New York Times

so true. i don't even know how else to describe how amazing The Book Thief is. how captivating and powerful Liesel's story is. it's the kind of book that i think everyone should read at some point in their lives, and i cannot recommend it enough.

especially for a writer, i don't think there's a better book to read. the characters, the setting, the plot, the style, the way Zusak described things, his foreshadowing, use of pathos, the underlying theme--the list goes on and on, and NONE of it could possibly have been any better. it is the best example (i think) that you will find of a perfect book.

of course, i do have one "complaint". well, more of a warning, really. i NEVER cry when reading books. i think it might have happened twice in my life (example: i cried when i read Marley and Me right after my black lab died from cancer). however, i sobbed buckets over this book.

in case you need any further convincing, my rating for The Book Thief is 5.0 (out of 5.0)

intrigued? you can read the first chapter or two online for free here

Monday, October 25, 2010

catching up...

some news in the blogosphere: if you haven't heard, Sandy Shin is now Emy Shin!! her new blog (and blog contest!!) is at this link. she is giving away an ARC of Matched by Ally Condie, which happens to be one of the most anticipated new releases on my wish list.

head on over to Emy's new blog to enter! good luck :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


by Alyson Noel

synopsis (from Alyson Noel's website):

iley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley...

my thoughts:

this was unlike any other book i've ever read. for one thing, Noel puts very little emphasis on grammatical correctness. never fearing to use dependent clauses without an independent clause to support them. over and over again. almost enough to drive me crazy after a dozen pages. telling myself to keep going, keep going.

yeah, it pretty much read like that for long, dragging sections during the story. it was very distracting (and tiring).

this is definitely my biggest complain about the book. it is very rare that a technical element of a book makes me want to stop reading, but that nearly happened with Radiance.

also, it took me a while to warm up to the protagonist, Riley. she was very whiny. however, by the second half of the book, i found myself enjoying the story despite these faults. it was, as i mentioned, very different from anything else i've read. it wasn't thrilling, but it caught a hold of my imagination. i enjoyed seeing Riley have to struggle with some interesting challenges and show that she is more than a useless whiner. i experienced the revelations of the story along side her. i laughed and smiled and caught my breath at the ingenious details Noel wrote into the story.

i changed my mind. i was impressed.

i definitely will read the sequel, and i will also recommend this book.

ultimate rating: 4.0

Sunday, October 17, 2010

and the award goes to...

(so SORRY for how long it took to post this!)

Cass at Words on Paper was amazingly sweet and gave me the One Lovely Blog Award (thank you so much, Cass!!), and Jessi from The Elliot Review just gave me the Life is Good award (thank you, thank you, thank you!!), both of which i am now going to pass on!

One Lovely Blog Award official rules:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  1. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  2. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
the blogs i've chosen for the award:

A Romantic Enters the World

Alison Can Read

Books Complete Me

Citraberry Book Reviews

Epic Book Nerd

Grab a Pen

Heather's Odyssey


My Sphere of Domesticity

Nikki Katz

That Bookish Girl

The Bookish Snob

The Undercover Book Lover

YA Addict

Life is Good award:

To accept the award you must link back and thank the person who gave you the Life is Good Award and then answer the ten survey questions. Then you can pass it along to other blogs.

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?

actually, i do blog under a semi-false name. Kari is my name but not how i actually spell it. right now, it doesn't really matter to me if i'm anonymous or not! i just don't like to give out too much personal info on the internet.

2.Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side:

when i was eight, my family went to Disneyland. there was this ride that went high up in the air and then dropped straight back to the ground. i really wanted to ride it, so i promised i wouldn't get scared (needless to say, my parents did not believe me. they finally relented, though). i was extremely nervous, but i was just as determined to tough it out. we got on the ride, it rose, i tried to hide my terror, it dropped.
i didn't know whether i wanted to scream or cry or laugh. tentatively, my dad asked if I was okay.
I blinked, opened my mouth, and stood dumbly for a moment. then: "LET'S DO IT AGAIN!"
my stubbornness at work.

3.What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Too short. I really need some of Treebeard's magic water...

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

peach tea smoothie from Next Coffee. utterly amazing and delicious.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

read, write, blog, social network, play RockBand 2. lately, i've also been watching Vampire Diaries.

6.Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?


7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?

i was anything i wanted to be--the smartest, the funniest, the most confident. the beauty of homeschooling! i never could get away with ditching, though...

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see?

bringing my four-month-old puppy home for the first time. she had fallen asleep on my lap.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

other people or events (or books!)

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

READ. i hate talking on the phone. i text and email!

okay, thanks for slogging through all that! now, the good stuff: i'm passing the award on to:

Sandy (Emy) Shin
S. A. Larsen

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon!!

this is what started it all for me.

okay, not really. i was already writing. but NaNoWriMo made me so serious about writing that i started to do research about authors, about agents, about what it takes to get published. for the first time, it was real. i started to think, can i or can't i do this? what will it really take?

and then i wrote 50,000 words in a month. it was amazing.

wait, what is NaNoWriMo?? i guess i'm getting ahead of myself.

for those of you who haven't heard, NaNo is a website where writers gather every year in November. these writers undertake the challenge of trying to write 50,000 words in one month (yes, you read that right). if you hate math, i'll save you the headache and tell you that that come out to 1,667 words per day.

it's insane.

it's stressful.

it's hard.

it's so worth it.

i don't even know what my favorite part of NaNo is. the pep talk emails in my own inbox from famous authors whose books i actually own?? talking to other writers who are also taking part in this crazy challenge??? or was it the fact that i actually wrote 50,000 words in one month??

it was all amazing.

if you want to learn more, definitely stop by NaNo and see if it's something you want to join in on. you've got almost a month to decide...see you in November!!

let the writing begin.

oh, and one last thing: during NaNo, i will be AWOL on all social networking sites--which includes my blog! BUT you can always stop by to check out my word count. just a heads-up!


by Kiersten White.

synopsis (from Ms. White's webpage):

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

it seems like all too often, the books i'm excited for and dying to read just don't live up to the hype. or their beautiful covers.

i am SO glad to say that this was not the case with Paranormalcy! my rating: 4.6

this book rocks. the voice, the paranormal creatures, and the story were all wonderfully fresh. reading Paranormalcy was like a splash of cool water--tingly, exciting, and at times, downright startling. even when i thought i knew what was going to happen, i really didn't. the story was utterly unpredictable.

my one complaint: too much was left unfinished! but i guess that's where the sequel comes in...eventually. bleep! i hate waiting for a good book. please hurry, Ms. White!

Jane by April Linder

wow, this review has been way-too-long over-due. sorry, guys!

in case you can't tell by the title, Jane is a re-telling of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte).

before i can even talk about the book, though, i have a major confession to make: i don't really like the whole classic-retelling genre. it seems like half the romances out there are retellings of Pride and Prejudice, and then of course there's the whole Pride and Prejudice and Zombies series of bizarre spin-offs (which didn't really do much for me, honestly). of course, you're welcome to your own opinion on this genre! maybe you love the retellings. i just feel that they've gotten a bit out of control.

okay, rant over. back to the book.

synopsis (from author April Lindner's page):

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

needless to say, i was a little apprehensive when picking up Jane. but then i thought about it: a retelling of Jane Eyre? okay, that would have to be quite a bit different than a spin-off on Pride and Prejudice...the theme is much harder to copy...this could be interesting. and i did love the idea of a rock star being Mr. Rochester.

and then? i fell in love with the book. i hated it when i had to stop reading. i marvelled at how the story transferred so well to a modern setting. i felt as though i had rediscovered an old friend.

April Lindner is a genius. bottom line.

naturally, there aren't a lot of twists in the story if you've already read Jane Eyre--most of the creativity is in the way Ms. Lindner adapted the classic. however, if you aren't familiar with Jane Eyre, you will still be hooked because Jane completely recaptures the mystery and subtle charm of the original romance. it's the perfect retelling for readers who are or aren't familiar with the original classic!!

didn i mention April Lindner is a genius??

Jane will be officially released on October 11th. i don't normally do this, but i am urging those of you who love British classics as well as modern lit to do yourselves a favor and pick up a copy!

my rating out of 5.0: 4.9