review: “secret society” December 9, 2009Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Secret Society by Tom Dolby.
HarperTeen // Hardcover // 352 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.
Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch all attend the prestigious Chadwick School in New York City — all of them want to be much more than they are. Enter a mysterious ceremony, a new tattoo, and three of the four are now in a secret society. The society’s goal? To further the ambitions of its members. The price? Well, they’ll just have to wait and see.
After re-reading my summary, I want to read this book all over again. But…the book’s plot and description are amazing — such potential. The writing and pacing caused it to fail.
The beginning of the book set up the characters and the ceremony to enter the secret society really interested me. And I was willing to wait it out for the answers with the characters, but unfortunately, the middle part of the book drags horribly and readers don’t get any answers by the end of the book.
I was invested in the characters and that’s what kept me reading until the end. Had I not cared about them, I probably would have put the book down — and that’s saying something, I almost always read a book I finish it. I have a gut feeling that most teens have less patience than I do.
That’s not to say that this novel is bad, by any means. The last forty pages of text had me on the edge of my seat, racing towards the end. I’m hoping that this volume was just slow to set up the story, and that the rumored sequel will help the plot achieve its full potential. I know I’ll definitely be getting the sequel from the library when it comes out.
review: “heist society” October 23, 2009Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: adventure, arc, series
Heist Society by Ally Carter.
Hyperion // ARC // 304 pages.
Reviewed from an ARC, received at ALA’s Annual Conference 2009.
Kat Bishop’s a thief. Not just any thief. She’s a major player in the heist world. Her whole family’s in the business. So, it’s a huge surprise when Kat suddenly drops off the radar to attend a private, normal boarding school. But when Hale shows up and tells Kat that her dad is in trouble and that only she can pull off the job needed to save him, Kat doesn’t hesitate to dive back in to her life of crime. After all, family is family.
First I want to mention just how floored I was that I managed to get a copy of this book. This was my dream of ALA that somehow I stumbled onto this book. So, yes, I was hugely excited and spent the rest of my day at the conference peeking at it.
I think Ally Carter is just a phenomenal chick lit/adventure writer, and even more so that she knows how to balance the real world teen reactions & quirks with her incredible, highly specialized worlds. Both of her series are firmly rooted in reality by her characters, even though their circumstances are out of the ordinary.
“Heist Society” started off with a bang, dragging Kat back into the world she was running from. I liked Kat as a character. She’s very different from Cammie (Carter’s other leading lady from the Gallagher Girl books), a really unique character. The other characters are fun, and intriguing. I predict many teen girls will be falling in love with Hale. (And perhaps some young teen librarians…)
The book was a bit slow for me and I can’t tell if that’s because I was savoring it or if it was because I was in the middle of summer reading and everything was crazy. I will say that I did get a little confused with the locations (Kat’s mission sends her traveling throughout Europe), but I chalked that up to the fact that I’ve been stuck in the US my whole life.
A strong start to her new series. I’ll be purchasing it for the library and looking forward to future installments.
review: “catching fire” August 16, 2009Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: adventure, arc, sci-fi, series
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[Please run away if you haven’t read “The Hunger Games!” There will be spoilers in the review for the first book.]
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
Scholastic // ARC // 400 pages.
Reviewed from an ARC, received through ALA Annual Conference 2009.
No one thought Katniss Everdeen would walk away alive from The Hunger Games, especially not with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. But now they have caught the eye of The Capitol. And a government known for creating The Hunger Games in the first place is rarely known as a forgiving government. They are known for revenge. As Katniss is thrown into more unexpected circumstances, she fights to figure out who she is and to remain true to herself.
I loved this book. I am dying to talk about it. I cannot wait until it comes out and I won’t have to worry about spoiling people. This book made my jaw drop. I cried. I flailed. And you can bet that I pouted when I turned the last page and discovered there weren’t any more words. Furthermore, you can understand that I also squealed and immediately re-read the entire book.
I’m having a hard time saying all the things I want to because there are huge twists and turns in this book that I can’t imagine talking about until everyone else has read it.
That being said, I loved where this book took characters that we’ve already established, I loved the sense of immediacy and urgency that Collins builds for her readers, I loved revisiting The Hunger Games (and this whole world) under different circumstances.
This book ends on a horrible cliffhanger. I am already dying for the next book in the series and we don’t have a name, release date, or cover for it. That’s really the only downside in this amazing book.
Pre-order it now if you haven’t and expect long lines at your library. The sophomore slump does not exist. Not in Suzanne Collins’s world.
review: “the hunger games” July 23, 2009Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: adventure, sci-fi, series
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Scholastic // Hardcover // 384 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.
Let me first say that I have to thank two of my co-workers for nagging me to start this book. So, thanks Sarah and Amanda: you were right. This book is amazing.
I’ve never been a big sci-fi reader. In fact, I’ve been disappointed by a lot of sci-fi. Especially but sci-fi that’s full of alternative world building and long drawn-out explanation of weaponry and spacesuits. Okay, so it sounds like I hate sci-fi. Not true — I really liked “The Adoration of Jenna Fox.” And I would highly classify that as sci-fi.
And I loved “The Hunger Games.”
Katniss was a real character, a character that drew me in from the beginning of the book. You see, I have a little sister. And I know that I would do exactly what Katniss does for Prim. In a heartbeat.
The action of this book, the adventure was like a downward spiral. I kept reading faster and faster, yet when I finished turning the last page, I nearly cried because the book was over and I knew the story wasn’t. And when I found out that this was a trilogy, I thought I would go mad from waiting for the next books.
This fire — for lack of a better term — has calmed down…if only slightly.
Collins is a master world builder. I knew everything I needed to so that I could understand the story, but I wasn’t bogged down in the details. The few things that were told to us about the evolution of Katniss’s world were necessary, were plot points, and were welcome.
I think I’ve finally realized what makes a truly successful sci-fi story. It is not the world building and details. It is the characters. And the characters in “The Hunger Games” are the first sci-fi characters I’ve related to so closely, so immediately.
A highly recommended, addictive read that will have teens impatiently on the edges of their seats for the sequels.
review: “don’t judge a girl by her cover” July 6, 2009Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: adventure, romance
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Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter.
Hyperion // Hardcover // 272 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.
Cammie Morgan had no idea what was in store for her when she went to visit her roommate, Macey, over the last few days of summer vacation. As Macey’s father accepts the vice-presidential candidate nomination, Cammie and Macey are caught in a kidnapping attempt. Using all of their Gallagher Girl skills, Cammie and Macey save themselves and Preston…but just barely. When they come back to school, everything has changed — including the fact that Macey isn’t safe anymore.
As the third book in the series, I expected the story to unfold in the same way as the first two books. I was so surprised when this book took a darker turn than I expected. Cammie’s growing older and Cammie’s world is getting bigger. It makes perfect sense that her problems are getting bigger too. I loved the fact that Ally Carter is playing with loyalties and with character motives. Like, why is Zach hanging around Cammie? To hurt her, protect her? Because she’s pretty? These questions left hanging only made me want to keep reading and even at the end of the book, I wanted the next book in the series.
One of the few problems I’ve noticed other reviewers had a problem with was the way that both Cammie and Macey reverted to showing signs of immaturity that they had already out-grown in the previous books. I think this was realistic and hitting the nail on the head of what happens to a lot of teens when their world expands. They want to go back, even if they can’t. This gave the novel the kind of realism that the series needs to stay grounded. (Because spy schools don’t exist here in Illinois. At least, I don’t think they do…)
Great addition to the series. I’ll be waiting as patiently as possible for the fourth installment.
review: “13 little blue envelopes” June 30, 2009Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: adventure, romance, series
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13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.
Harper Teen // Paperback // 352 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.
After her Aunt Peg passes away, Ginny receives a letter with simple instructions: “Go to New York City. Go to the airport right from there.” In New York City, Ginny also receives a package with 13 little blue envelopes in it — these are her guides as she travels to Europe. Along the way, Ginny is instructed to open each of envelopes only after she completes a task. Ginny’s adventures take her far and wide, introducing her to tons of colorful characters and situations as she tries to make sense of Aunt Peg’s last gift.
So, this novel is about 50% adventure and 50% romance. I’ve had it sitting on my to-be read shelf for about two years or so. Some books are like that for me, they take a while before I’m in the right state of mind to read them. I’m so glad I waited for “13 Little Blue Envelopes,” because this was the right time to read it.
I adored Ginny. I adored Keith. I even adored Aunt Peg. (But of course, I was still frustrated not knowing what was in those envelopes and frustrated at having to wait for Ginny to open them!)
But it was the ending that made me mad. And I’m going to spoil here because this book has been out so long. Turn back now if you haven’t read it! (Well, just skip the next paragraph — then come back for news!)
I was really upset that Ginny lost and didn’t get to read the thirteenth envelope. And I know she didn’t need to, I know she solved the puzzle and found her aunt’s paintings on her own. BUT. I wanted to know what was in that envelope. For me! I have my fingers crossed that Maureen Johnson will find a way to reveal the thirteenth envelope because…
She updated her Twitter to announce that a sequel to “13 Little Blue Envelopes” is officially on! (Okay, I’ll admit it. I squee-ed like a little girl.)
All in all, a solid read and a great book to sell over the summer!