Book Review: Things I Know about Love

Book Review: Things I Know about LoveThings I Know About Love by Kate le Vann
Release Date: June 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 160
Source: ALA

Livia Stowe hasn't had the best luck when it comes to boys. She's come across those who have lied and those who have left her broken hearted when she needed them the most. But this is the summer where she hopes everything will change. After finally beating her battle with cancer, she has convinced her mom to let her spend the summer with her brother in the States. This was to be the summer about inner reflection and figuring out the things she has known about love through her private blog. And while she is endlessly talking about love, she never thought that a holiday love would happen to her. Not until Adam that is. If she can just grab his attention, this may become the best holiday ever. If only Livia can move beyond writing about love and risk the chance to experience it...

The Short of It: I adored this book…until the end. Really, honestly, until the last 20 pages or so. I kind of suspected it was going to end the way it did, but I had high hopes that I was wrong. When I figured out I was right, I literally threw the book across the room and left it there for a while. I did end up finishing it, but the ending really did disappoint me. And although I didn’t cry, I would recommend having some tissues close on hand.

Plot: I liked the plot. Really I did. Or at least I did until the last 20 pages or so. I love the idea of a girl truly reflecting on love and taking it seriously. It’s not about bad boys or quick, unrealistic or unhealthy love. It was still a bit quick, but she had met him before and sometimes first impressions can be very strong. She learned from her past mistakes, no matter how small they were, and took them into account as she moved forward. I will admit, that most seventeen girls do not think this way, but I wish they would! This book has one of the more healthier messages I’ve seen in YA in regards to romance.

Now, I really wish she had been wiser when it came to the rest of her life. She should have ignored the things that she did. As a cancer survivor, I think she would have planned things just a bit more safe. However, I do understand as a young girl tasting her first chance at freedom in years would get carried away. I only wish Le Vann wouldn’t have felt it necessary to end it as she had. I’m sure some of my opinion on this area is that I’m a sap for happily-ever-afters, but the larger part of me felt like it was a ill-fit. She could have done so many other things and the ending just felt too fast, a tad forced, and unrealistic.

Characters: Livia is a very likable character. I was reminded of my own seventeen year old self and could easy relate to her. (Ok, so my twenty-something self can as well.) I was right with her as she tried to figure out something that is completely illogical and irrational…love. Her stories were ones that any normal girl could see herself in. Haven’t we all had a boy twist the truth to make himself look more favorable? Or leave us when we least expected it? Even her lists and final conclusions were honest and raw. Her view on a possible holiday romance was refreshing and I truly enjoyed my journey with her.

Romance: The moment Adam entered the picture, I knew he would be perfect for Livia. Normally, I’m not sure I would approve of the age gap for someone that young, but it really didn’t bother me in this case. Perhaps it was because I was excited to see a truly realistic boy for once. One that was incredibly sweet and kind, but that wasn’t sure of his footing. It was refreshing to see a boy’s doubts as he worries about missed chances, perfect dates, and falling in love. It was cute how their thoughts echoed each other almost perfectly. And even if the romance didn’t last forever, it was a nice reminder that love can hit without any warning when you least expect it.

Writing: I really enjoyed the blog style that Le Vann chose to use. It gave it a more personal, story-telling effect without feeling overwhelming. Yes, there wasn’t necessarily a lot of dialogue, but it worked well in this case. After all, the story was more about Livia and what she has learned about love than an actual love story. It’s her personal thoughts and reflections on the things she has already experienced in order to help with what she will someday experience. This book was her facts and no one else’s, so a blog seemed the perfect way to go. I am glad, though, that Le Vann decided to have Adam do a blog as well. It was nice to see his perspective and his voice added quite a bit to the story, in more ways than one. His thoughts truly made the story richer and may just be the reason that the blog style really worked in this book. I never felt like I needed more or that I was missing pieces of the story/inner thoughts of someone else. And while I may have hated the ending of this book, I would love to read something else by her.

Librarian-Mode: Hands down I think this book will fit the best with those who love Lurlene McDaniel. You may also try recommending it to those who enjoyed Sing Me To Sleep as well. Simply put, those who love those sappy, tear-jerker endings will adore this one.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Things I Know About Love? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.


Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade XThe Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
Release Date: May 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 356
Source: ALA

Damien’s 16th birthday was supposed to be a happy occasion. It should have been the day that he finally got his V and head onto Vilmore to become the supervillain. But imagine his surprise when instead of the V an X appears on his thumb, an undeniable sign that his villain mother had hooked up with a superhero. And if that weren’t bad enough, when he learns which superhero is his father, Damien is forced to go live with him and his superhero family. Given six weeks to prove to his father that there’s not an ounce of superhero in him, Damien will do anything to get back to the life he knew. But along the way he may just find that each decision leads him down a road he could have never expected.  Will Damien find himself slipping into the superhero lifestyle? Or will he be able to prove once and for all that he is all villain and turn that X into a V?

The Short of It: Adored it. I’ve been wanting to read this book since I first saw the cover/heard the description last year and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to do so. I can’t say enough good things about this one. And can I mention that Campbell throws in some of the best lines ever? I’ve been going around quoting my favorite one-liners since finishing (and probably will be for some time!)

Plot: I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like The Rise of Renegade X. I mean, sure, we’ve all sort of grown up on superhero comics/cartoons/movies, but this one is a little different. I felt like Campbell managed to pull a true sense to humanity to these larger than life characters, especially the supervillains. I enjoyed Damien’s struggle between becoming the villain he feels he was meant to be and doing what he believed was right. Of course, doing what he believed was right was not always about doing good or being a hero. It was about what his convictions led him to and proved how many shades of gray there really is in this world. But I also liked the message that one incident doesn’t define who you are. Just because you save the world doesn’t mean you’ll be a hero. Yes, it may put you one step (ok LEAP) closer, but there will be many more forks in the road and choices down the line that can change or redeem you.

Okay, I just realized I made this plot sound a lot more serious than it truly is. Yes, all this issue is touched upon a lot as Damien is struggling with his future, but there is TONS of fun and laughter mixed in. In fact, I’m betting you’ll notice the quirky girl, the dancing flower, and funny quips more than you will the other stuff. Okay, that may be a slight overstatement, but Campbell really does do an excellent job with mixing it all together.

Characters: Ah, Damien. There are moments where I wanted to shake the boy senseless, but most of the time I just wanted to give him a hug. I mean, one very small letter on his thumb literally changed his life upside down. Had it only gone the way it was supposed to and he would be on his way to becoming a supervillain at Vilmore. Instead, he got ripped from everything he knew and thrown into a new goody-good family. Yet, perhaps that was the best thing that happened to him, especially when you see how his home life really was. His mom wouldn’t exactly be winning any mother-of-the-year awards. Every time he went home I just wanted to give him cookies with milk and tell him it’d be ok.

On the other hand, Damien proves often enough that he doesn’t need that. He may be feeling lonely and unwanted, but he still knows who he is. He’s not afraid to risk his life for those he loves…and sometimes those he may not even know. Sure, maybe he won’t be the big, awful supervillain but I’m not sure he was ever meant to be. He always had this line that he couldn’t cross and no amount of training would have changed that. I was glad to see that sense of his right and wrong didn’t change through all he had to go through. He may have learned it wasn’t his mother’s or father’s right or wrongs, but they were his and that was enough.

Romance: Honestly, this is the hardest part for me to write about. There was romance, but there wasn’t. Does that make sense? What he has with Sarah isn’t really a relationship, even if they do produce some of the best lines. I think they both felt something for each other, but it never would have truly made it. She saw him as something he wasn’t. However, when it comes to Kat, well, that is where Damien’s heart belonged. And oddly enough, though she wasn’t in the a lot of the book, I found myself routing for a hot make-out session leading to undying love between them. Do I know why? No clue, but there’s was something about them that I loved almost instantaneously, even if she did kind of screw things up before. Maybe it was just how well she truly seemed to know him and was willing to admit the horrible mistake she made. Or maybe I’m just a sap for second chances. Either way kudos to Campbell for making me love unsafe, kind of in the background romance.

Writing: I really enjoyed Campbell’s style. I know I’ve mentioned the quotable one-liners, but it deserves yet another mention. Of course, I’m an odd girl and some of the ones I found funny others may not. As a D&D girl, there was a tabletop game reference that had me rolling. Beyond that, Campbell knows how to spin a good story. There were a couple of spots that the pacing felt a tad bit off, but it’s hardly worth mentioning. I can’t wait to see Campbell’s future work. I have a feeling she’ll just get better and better.

Librarian-Mode: So, this is definitely one I’ll be recommending to my teens this summer. In fact, it’s already on my recommended book list for High Schoolers that will be viewed by all my summer reading participants. However, I’m kind of stumped on what to pair it with. I’ve been pondering a couple different pairings like John Green or the Looking Glass Wars but I’m not quite sure they’re quite right. I can’t even think of any other superhero books beyond Hero by Perry Moore. And while they have some similar themes, I’m really don’t think they would work together. If you all have any good read-a-like suggestions I would love to hear them.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read The Rise of Renegade X? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: Candle Man: The Society of the Unrelenting Vigilance

Book Review: Candle Man: The Society of the Unrelenting VigilanceThe Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin
Series: Candle Man #1
Release Date: Sept. 2009
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 312
Source: Publisher

Theo's life has been ruled by the number three. Thanks to a mysterious "illness", he has found himself in the care of three people who rarely allow him beyond his three locked rooms. The only time he's let out of his rooms is on his birthday, which is usually only to walk around a graveyard. Yet, this last birthday, promises to change everything. His life is about to be shaken up like the snow in the odd snow globe left by an unknown person. Theo can sense that there's someone out there that knows more about him, but will they have the answers that will finally unlock the truth? Or will he just be trapped in a new sort of prison?

The Short of It: I’m still not sure what to think about Candle Man. I enjoyed it overall, but often found myself frustrated by not knowing what the heck was going on. Even so, I’m pretty sure I’ll pick up book two once it’s out to see where Dakin takes it.

Plot: If I had to sum up the plot for Candle Man in one word it would be complicated! Half the time I had no idea what was happening or how it would all tie together. There are a lot of characters and plot twists that a reader has to keep track of. I was never quite sure who to trust, who the good guys were, and what the heck Theo was/what was happening to him. Ok, so maybe I did figure those things out along the way, but there were times I wanted to doubt that the good guys were really the good guys. And really, I still kind of have my doubts and will be interested to see where Dakin takes the series.

Characters: Honestly, I didn’t have a strong like or dislike to most of characters. No instant BFFs here. Theo has been shut up since birth and really has no concept of how to interact with others normally. (Does anyone know how old Theo is?!) He’s pretty socially awkward and relies heavily on good manner books that Dr. Saint has given him over the years. I can see a lot of potential in what Theo can be, but right now I really still see him as an infant. He has a couple of choices of roads he can travel and that could drastically change him. It will be interesting to see how much of his innocence is sapped away as he’s pushed into a role he doesn’t seem to truly want.

And then there is Chloe. Talk about a girl with a lot of spunk that is not afraid to leap. She’s the one that I’m most looking forward to getting to know more. There are still a lot of secrets surrounding Chloe (and most of the other characters) and I hope Dakin continues to unravel them. I was kind of sad when her presence left and really wished she had been around more. (Trying to be careful about how much I say here) I can only hope Book One is not the last we see of her!

Romance: None. Theo has a hard enough time trying to deal with normal human interactions let alone a romance! I could see a possible hint of one though, but we’ll see if it actually goes that way in the up-coming books.

Writing: Writing is very simplistic, but then Candle Man is aimed at a younger audience. I’ve read my fair share of JUV books and Dakin fits solidly among them. The writing is easy enough that 4th & 5th graders will be able to read it but still something older kids will enjoy. The only thing that really bothered me was the “That’s so nice of you, Mr. Nicely” & “Very saintly of you, Dr. Saint”. The first time I saw it I kind of chuckled, but after that it got kind of annoying. I was glad that Dakin did seem to use it less frequently as the story moved along.

Librarian-Mode: On the back of the book they mentioned Percy Jackson, but I’m not sure that Candle Man quite falls into the same category. Some Percy Jackson fans may like it, but I have a feeling it would do better among those who like Series of Unfortunate Events or The Mysterious Benedict Society. Those who love mysteries and lots of fast-paced steam punk action will love this book.

Ok, now it’s your turn! Have you read Candle Man? If so, what did you think?



Book Review: Little Black Lies

Book Review: Little Black LiesLittle Black Lies by Tish Cohen
Release Date: Oct 2009
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

As the new kid at Anton High, a school for wealthy geniuses, eleventh-grader Sarah Black knows she has stepped into a world she doesn't belong. She may have the brains, but her downfall lies in her lost and found uniform and OCD janitor father. But when a little confusion over where she's from allows her to escape her unfavorable past she jumps aboard. After all, a few little lies is nothing in the quest to be popular, right? Sara will soon learn that even the smallest web of lies can get out of hand and one little slip could end it all. Will Sara be able to hold her ground among the Queen Bees or will it all come crumbling around her?

The Short of It: I really liked Little Black Lies. It was a quick read that was very hard to put down. Cohen creates very believable characters and setting. I finished the book with no real complaints making this an easy recommend book.

Plot: I thought the story line for Little Black Lies was very believable. I never found myself thinking that her lies or the storyline were too out there. In fact, the only part that made me go really? was the whole petting couch thing. (Think a puppy pile of teens with wandering hands on a couch) But the more I think about it, the more I remember things we could get away with in high school, so it’s really not that far fetched. In fact, everything else was so dead on that I could easily see this story happening in almost any high school across the nation. Kudos to Cohen for that!

Characters: Even with all her lies, I really liked Sara. I could easily put myself in her shoes and sympathize. Sometimes the desperation to fit in takes us to drastic measures. But even in the midst of her lies, Sara still tried to reach out to others. I think the way she talked to the maids and drivers proved that at the core she was still the same old Sara. And with the guilt and consequences from her decisions I think it’s safe to say she won’t do it again. She learned her lesson and realized that being herself was all she ever needed to be.

The only slight complaint I have is the relationship between Sara and her parents. Neither one is particularly healthy. While Charlie does indeed love Sara, his OCD has taken over his life. And while his future does have a promising outlook, I only hope he gets professional help. And then her mother? Oh man, don’t even get me started there. She was the only character I wanted to like, but couldn’t. She had such a selfish attitude and I wish Sara would have stood up to her. However, while I could have wished that everything was perfect, real life never is. Part of me is kind of glad Cohen didn’t make it a white house with picket fences. It was refreshing to see an honest look at real life that didn’t end up all fairy taled.

Romance: There’s not much to say here. There’s a little underlying romance that goes on, but it never really fully blooms. There’s a couple of kisses and promises of something more and that’s about where it ends. The story was not about falling in love though, so the relationship was not a big part of the story. It was more of a natural result thing then the big to-do. However, if Cohen plans to do a sequel, I would love to see where it goes.

Writing: Honestly, no complaints here at all. There was nothing I stumbled over or made me go huh? Cohen writes a tight story. Pacing was good and I never felt like a scene was too long. There were one or two scenes that I wish had been a little longer, but nothing that really bothered me. I also liked the little tidbits about ants before each chapter. I think it added a certain charm to the book.

Librarian-Mode: Overall, I think this will be an easy sell to girls. Although, I’m having trouble deciding what category I can throw it in. There’s not a lot of romance or BFFs so I’m not sure it really fits into the chick-lit category. And while it deals with some imperfect living situations, it’s no Ellen Hopkins read-a-like. But I think if you like honest realistic fiction with a little sass Little Black Lies is the perfect book.

Ok, now it’s your turn! Have you read Little Black Lies? If so, what did you think?