Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sing Me to Sleep


Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison
Publication Date: March 4, 2010
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 301
Keywords: winter, choir, travel
Format Read: signed ARC from author (thank you so much!)


Beth has always been "The Beast" - that's what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Who could love a best? Beth's only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is, until she is selected to be her choir's soprano soloist, and recevies the makeover of a lifetime. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Beth. Things only get better when her choir travels to Switzerland and Beth meets the mysterious Derek. They have an incredible whirlwind affair that makes Beth realize, for the first time, she too can find love. She's no longer The Beast. In Derek's eyes, she's a beauty. But then Scott makes a heartbreaking confession to Beth that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous, passionate feelings she has for Derek? And there's an even bigger problem: Derek's got a secret...one that could shatter everything.

This book took me completely by surprise. On the surface it seemed like it would be another summer-fling story, but the girl learns she really loves her friend back home. This was not the case. Angela Morrison created a story so deep it was hard to pull out of. I thoroughly enjoyed the choir atmosphere, being involved in three different choirs myself. Music was described perfectly, how it takes hold of a person and transports them to another universe to unite with the world.

I'll admit I was taken aback by the sudden twists in the plot. I thought I knew how the book would end, but I was mistaken. It was a good mistake, and I am extremely glad I was wrong. Although I was disappointed Beth's character changed from Beast to Beauty rather quickly, I was blown away by the characterization of Derek. He was easily one of the deepest and most fantastically written characters I have seen in a while.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Going Bovine


Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Publication Date: September 22 ,2009
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Pages: 480
Keywords: friendship, road trip, travel
Format Read: library book


Summary: All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school- and life in general- with a minimum effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before he's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Which totally sucks.
Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure- if he's willing to search for it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe-hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters most.

I was surprised from the start. I knew it was going to be good (after all, it's Libba Bray we're talking about), but it was so different from a Great and Terrible Beauty. Cameron suffers from mad cow disease, and Dulcie, the cute and caffeinated angel helps him to find the cure before he dies. Subtle hints of nothing in the beginning turned out to be plot twisters and key concepts at the end of the novel, and something as simple as snow globes can change the world. Everything in this novel is based around small coincidences that chain together, ultimately altering the course of someone's life.


Each character was so intricately developed. Dulcie became a loved friend, and I began to feel as though I knew her, predicting when she would pop up and disappear again throughout the story. It wasn't in a "this story is predictable" sort of way, but a "I know this person so well" sort of way. And Balder, the talking yard gnome was easily the funniest character of the story. Bray did an excellent job of mixing humor with Norse god myths. In addition, the mix of time travel and other dimensions always adds a nice touch to any novel.

I was quickly pulled into Cameron's strange world of talking objects, fire giants, and Dr. X, the man who has the cure. Once again, Bray has done well. Below is a quote from the back of the book I rather enjoyed:

"Saving the world. That's impossible. Insane. Still. A cute. I could be cured. That's what she said. And some little atoms come awake inside me, swirling into a question I can't shake: 'Why the hell not?' I could have a chance. And a chance is better than nothing."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sea Change




Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
Publisher: Point
Pages: 292
Format read: ARC from author (thank you so much!)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate. 
There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship, and reality. Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?


Sea Change started out as the typical summer novel with the headstrong girl and the mysterious boy falling in love. But through Friedman's descriptive and captivating style, she entwines the story into a deeper and darker tale than the jolly one it seems to be. I adored the development of each character individually, even though they were predictable. The mystery of the story was intriguing, and though I knew the ending, Friedman left it open. She never stated many things, allowing the reader to come to his own conclusion about different aspects of the novel (a wonderful thing, but seen so rarely). 
In addition, cheesy references to Shakespeare and Thoreau made it all the better (as well as some Einstein appearances). Myths were brought to life and I loved every bit of it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer


Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 290
Keywords: romance, grief, summer
Format Read: library book

Summary: According to Anna's best friend, Frankie, twenty day sin Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie-- she's already had her romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

I had seen this being read all summer long, and finally, while skimming the shelves for Agatha Christie biographies and literary criticisms, decided to pick it up, assuming it would be a fun summer-fluff book. It was the farthest thing from unmeaningful fluff.

It was still a typical summer vacation novel, but reinvented. It demonstrated the hardships of losing a brother and a friend. The characters weren't original either, but their interactions made them original. Twenty Boy Summer pleasantly surprised me with a balance of lightheartedness and tragedy. Without even realizing it, I became strangely attached to the characters, and even now, I don't know why. The fact that there wasn't anything special about might be the reason it was special. The overwhelming cloud of grief that surrounded Anna for that year surrounded me, and I felt the pain Sarah Ockler was writing on the page. I did not expect that.

I am pleased and surprised to say I did love this book. It gave me a nice break from analyzing literary devices in British Literature, but at the same time, pulled me in to a familiar world that I haven't visited in a while.

Friday, October 9, 2009

If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 201
Format Read: Library book

Summary: Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love - music- even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving behind her family and friends?
Then, one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

Wow. Can I start by saying this book surprised me? The details in the anecdotes were gripping, and Gayle Forman did a fantastic job weaving the characters lives together, so they all wound up in the same place. I didn't expect to feel so attached, and when I found myself crying, I didn't realize it was for Mia. Forman was able to craft the story so carefully, that without using any fantastic or outstanding sentences, she still managed to weave it through the reader's life.

And the tie to music was uncanny. Music changed my life, just as it has for Mia, and Forman must feel the same way. The descriptions of how her life was complete and totally intertwined with song was genius, something everyone should notice and try to understand, because music does that. It grabs you by the hand and takes you to a world you've never been to before, but you want to stay there forever.

This book was surpirsingly wonderful.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Slept Away

Slept Away by Julie Kraut
Publication Date: May 9, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Pages: 320
Keywords: camp, summer, friendship
Format Read: ARC from Traveling to Teens! (Thank you!)
Get It: Book Depository
Laney Parker is a city girl through and through. For her, summertime means stepping out of her itchy gray school uniform and into a season of tanning at rooftop swimming pools, brunching at sidewalk cafes, and-- as soon as her parents leave for the Hamptons-- partying at her classmates' apartments.
But this summer Laney's mother has other plans for her. It's called Camp Timber Trails, and rustic doesn't even begin to describe the unair-conditioned log cabin nightmare. Lany is way out of her element--the in crowd is anything but cool, popularity seems to be determined by swimming skills, and the activities seem more like boot camp than summer camp.
Splattered with tie-dye fallout, stripped of her cell, and going through Diet Coke withdrawal, Laney is barely hanging on. Being declared the biggest loser in the bunk is one thing, but when she realizes that her summer crush is untouchably uncrushable in the real world, she has to start asking herself some serious questions. Can camp cool possibly translate to cool cool? Summer camp just might turn this city girl's world upside-down.
The thing I loved most about this book was its simplicity. There was the typical storyline, but Kraut didn't try to make it anything but, giving the story a sweet and innocent edge to it. The subtle details were enough to get the point across without being overkill. The elegancy of the non-elegant was really what made this story.

Your average unlikely-friend-but-outer-geek character was, of course, mentioned in the form of bunkmate Sylvie, who sarcastically helped Laney make it through a dance reheatsal. The mean clique was led by Hayden, a girl with a vengence. In addition, two unlikely superhero guys showed up, making it more cliche, yet entertaining because Kraut didn't try to make it fancy. It was what it was, and that's that."

This made me yearn for summer again, sitting in class looking aimlessly out. Not in a particular direction, but just out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Winner of Castration Celebration!

Drumroll please...
Erica from the Book Cellar!
I shall be sending you an email right away (now, rather) and have it shipped as soon as AP English stops hogging my life!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last Day to Enter My Contest!

Just a teeny reminder to enter before midnight Friday!!!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Publication Date: July 21, 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
Pages: 238
Keywords: supernatural, government, aliens
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Daniel has the X Factor. It's True: Daniel X is strong enough to fight anything in the world. Well, almost anything...except his problematic interest in two beautiful, fascinating girls- who know that Daniel is special.  Extraordinarily special. Not many guys you meet have had their parents brutally murdered by something literally out of this world. Not many have a host of deadly criminals hunting them to the ends of the earth.And none of them are extraterrestrials. Except Daniel. He's the only one who might be able to eliminate every last intergalactic evil on the List of Alien Outlaws on Terra Firma. Because the greatest power of all isn't to be part spider and part man, or to cast magic spells - the ultimate gift is the power to create.

This was another that was judged before I actually started reading it...being as I loved Maximum Ride until the fourth book. I was kind of expecting mediocre. And that's really what I got.

No, it wasn't terrible. The story line was interesting, and Patterson kept it suspenseful, but there was so much going on at times, it felt sporradic and disorganized. There wasn't much explaining in the beginning, so I was left dazed and confused for a while on my own, then was disheartened when characters were mentioned but not elaborated on. Families, which seemed important, became not important, and nothing seemed to make too much sense.

That being said, I DID like how Patterson, once again, created a different world in our own familiar one. He is talented at doing just that. However, it seems like he has lost his passion for writing and merely continues for the sake of fans. This feels like a short review, but not much else can be continued without giving some strange off-topic story line away...
And chapters trailed off as I just did...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In My Mailbox (8/15/09)

...Originated at the Story Siren
What can I say? My In My Mailboxes have been extremely inconsistent so far, so I'm just updating with some of the ones I've gotten since the last time I posted, which was in June. So, these were ones I got back in June, and can't wait to read!

1. Viola in Reel Life ARC by Adriana Trigiani

I'm marooned.
Abandoned.
Left to rot in boarding school . . .
Viola doesn't want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.
Ick.
There's no way Viola's going to survive the year—especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.
Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.
But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.


2. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga (signed!)

"I'm a computer geek, a comic book geek, a study geek.
Even in the Fast-Track classes, I'm apart."
Fifteen-year-old Fanboy is miserable at school, where he is bullied, and at home, with his pregnant mother and her husband, the "step-fascist." His only relief is the late hours spent creating his own comic book.
Then he receives an instant message from Kyra, an enigmatic Goth who seems to be the only witness to the violence he endures, and the two form a cagey, charged friendship.

3. The Treasure Map of Boys ARC by E. Lockhart
Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more: Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies.
Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill. Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances.


In this companion novel to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists.


4. Just One Wish ARC by Jannette Rallsion
17-year-old Annika tries desperately to get TV-star Steve Raleigh, of Teen Robin Hood fame, to visit her six-year-old brother, Jeremy, before the brain-tumor surgery that may or may not save his life. Despite the circumstances, madcap adventures abound: Annika’s attempts to infiltrate the Burbank studio set during the filming of the show, disguised as an animal handler with a huge snake, are predictable but delightful. Her initial reaction to Steve is distaste and disgust—which means that soon enough they are a romantic item. However, what drives this story is not their romance, but rather Annika’s love for her little brother and the courage she displays as she tries to save him.
5. Swoon by Nina Malkin

Swoon, Connecticut, stands proudly on its heritage and the good behavior of its Lilly Pulitzer–clad inhabitants, so semi-psychic New York transplant Candice (Dice) sticks out like a sore thumb. On the autumnal equinox, Dice’s sweet and gentle cousin Penelope suddenly changes into a dangerous vixen, and only Dice is able to see that she has been possessed. Dice knows she must exorcise Sinclair, the ghost of a handsome young man from the colonial era, but she has fallen deeply in love with the appropriately nicknamed Sin. Finally, Dice follows Sin’s directions for an exorcism, which frees Penelope from his hold and releases Sin into his own physical form. The golem-like Sin finally reveals his goal: to exact revenge on the descendants of those who unjustly hung him for the murder of his fiancĂ©e.

6. Secret Society ARC by Tom Dolby



Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone. . . .


An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The scion of one of New York's wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker.

As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about.


They didn't ask to be Society members. But when three of them receive a mysterious text message promising success and fame beyond belief, they say yes to everything—even to the harrowing initiation ceremony in a gritty warehouse downtown and to the ankh-shaped tattoo they're forced to get on the nape of their necks. Once they're part of the Society, things begin falling into place for them. Week after week, their ambitions are fulfilled. It's all perfect—until a body is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks except for an ankh-shaped tattoo.




And finally, I received The Adoration of Jenna Fox SIGNED by Mary Pearson! I was the lucky winner of the 250-follower contest on facebook a few weeks back and I was jumping around the house when I realized I won!





Anyone else?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Senior Year!

Well, my first "week" is done. Am I sad?

Not one little bit.

My first official day was Thursday, though I was there on Wednesday. My school is currently going through a hefty bit of renovations (meaning the tearing down of every single wall and building it from scratch), and the choir room was just now being finished. So, as a kind person (eh) I helped set up risers and practice rooms and theory desks on Wed.

It was okay, though I'm dropping Spanish IV. I can't stand the teacher, and the very first day, she began talking and automatically my eyelids shut. Then I was yelled at for being disrespectful, though she doesn't know how to say that in English, so she sort of stammered for a bit, then gave up. I'm going to pick up interior design instead. Other classes this year include AP Biology, AP English, Constitutional Government, Honors Economics, Musical Theatre and Dance Performance, A Cappella Choir, and Calculus. (Originally I was signed up for an easy senior year, study hall included. What happened?)

Therefore, I may be reading less than I was over the summer (although the Fountainhead took up most of my life anyway...AP English read, and also Survival of the Sickest for Bio, highly recommended by the way). Reviews will probably be less constant, kind of whenever I can get them up.

Meanwhile, in all the construction, they shut off the theatre kids' back hall that we use to get to class and beat the lunch rush. Now, instead of being first to lunch and on time, we are ALL late to third period. And lunch...they built the cafe smaller than it was before. Why? Good question. So I ate an apple today... a sad apple that had a weird brown spot when I bit into it, so I pitched it.

But it's okay, Thursday, after throwing away my apple, headed back to English to take my Fountainhead test, which I utterly failed. Then, I realized it's impossible for me to go to my locker at all during the school day. So, as it's not like I took to much time eating my apple, I have to go during our tiny 25 minute lunch period. There are also no working clocks anywhere in the school, except the watches teachers wear. So they know when we're late, but we don't.

Cheers.


Don't forget about my contest!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by David Levithan & Rachel Kohn
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Publisher: Knopf Books
Pages: 230
Keywords: friendship, LGBT, romance
Format Read: Library book


Naomi loves Ely.
And she's also in love with him.
Ely loves Naomi.
But he prefers to be in love with boys.
Naomi and Ely have been inseperable since childhood- partially because they've grown up across the hall from each other in the same Manhattan apartment building, and also because they're best friends. Soul mates. Or are they? Just to be safe, they've created a No Kiss List- their list of people who are absolutely off-kissing-limits for both of them. The No Kiss List protects their friendship and ensures that nothing will rock the foundation of Naomi and Ely: the institution. Until Ely kisses Naomi's boyfriend. And a fateful piece of gum in the wrong place at the wrong time changes everything. Soon a rift of universal proportions threatens to destroy their friendship, and it remains to be seen whether Naomi and Ely can find their way toward new soul-mate prospects...and back to one another.


I began this book with the idea that I would love it just as much as I loved Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.

Immediately I was drawn to how the book sucked me in. The characters, even minor ones, were left open for imagination, but in a way that made me love them. Most often, I feel like throwing rocks at undeveloped characters, but I wanted to hug these. Furthermore, I loved how absolutely laugh-my-ass-off some of these parts were while ripping out my heart at the same time. I felt as though my best friend hated me, and cried right along with Naomi.


Rachel Cohn and David Levithan did not disappoint, and expect to see Are We There Yet? in the near future...

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Miles Between


The Miles Between by Mary Pearson
Publication Date: July 1, 2009
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pages: 272
Format Read: ARC from author (Thank you so much!)

Summary: Destiny Faraday makes a point of keeping a distance from her classmates at Hedgebrook Academy. Routine and predictability help her stick to her number-one rule: Don't get attached. But one day, with the crumpling of a calendar page and an odd encounter with a mysterious stranger, routine and predictability are turned on end.
Unexpectedly finding a car at their disposal, Destiny and three of her classmates embark on an unauthorized road trip, searching for one fair day- a day where the good guy wins and everything adds up to something just and right.

Honestly, I was surprised. From the first word on the back of the book, "Destiny," I thought this was going to be a hokey novel meant for twelve-year-olds. The character's name was Destiny! But by the time I hit Chapter 11, I knew this was going to be an astonishing novel.

The main character was so different than anything I had ever come across, striking my attention the most. She avoided people mainly because she didn't want to lose them, yet she noticed amazingly tiny details about everyone she went to school with. it was remarkable how detailed the descriptions were, noting how many times a girl twirled her fork before she ate spaghetti and a boy who dialed a phone number twice before actually calling. I love details. I love tiny descriptions that don't really matter, but in the same sense, they totally do.

My favorite part was how unexpectedly the heaviness loomed over me. I wasn't aware of its presence at first, then it all hit at once, and I found myself sobbing. Hands down to Pearson, that doesn't often happen (others are HP Deathly Hallows and The Sweet Far Thing). A few corny lines here and there, but overall was surprisingly wonderful, and it was nice to read one of those hidden marvels for a change.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eyes Like Stars


Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Publication Date: July 7, 2009
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 352
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: All her world's a stage.
Seventeen-year-old Beatrice (Bertie) Shakespeare Smith has spent her whole life within the walls of the Theatre Illuminata, a majestic and magical playhouse with thousands of players at the ready. Bertie was a foundling, discovered at the theater door, but management has now wearied of harboring the irreverent, unrestrained, occasionally downright destructive young woman she has become. She must prove-in four days-that she can make an invaluable contribution to the theater or be forever banished.


Mantchev seamlessly blends the chaotic with the traditional plays of the theatre, like molding Hamlet into an Egyptian setting, and morphing Bertie from a child into a cannon-firing tango-dancing girl ready to ward off the Stage Manager. She also expertly created a world in which I would die to live in, with sets constantly changing on stage to fit moods and topics of characters and their conversations.

It also held my interest, changing topics quickly but fluidly, so as not to confuse one too badly. I was lost at first, as there was minimal explaining that the players couldn't actually leave the theater, but once I found that out, I couldn't put the book down.

I also fell in love with the vividly striking Ariel, who played the villain for a while, always trying to manipulate Bertie into falling madly in love with him. I sure was. I adored his personality, and I felt as though when he stared at Bertie, his eyes penetrated me. It was eerie.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Temporary Hiatus

So in case you haven't noticed, I've been a bit busy. I'm writing this miniscule paragraph to let you know I'm not dead. I just got back from a sort of in-community mission trip, and leaving tomorrow morning for Disney World with my theatre department at school!

I'll be back soon! I promise!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

City of Bones


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 448
Keywords: magic, science fiction, supernatural
Format Read: library book

Going to a party can often change your life. You may find someone to fall in love with, someone to fall out of love with, what you don't usually expect is to discover something which puts everything you thought you knew about yourself in doubt. When Clary finds herself at Pandemonium, it's just another night, another night of teenage fights with her mother, of wrestling with the mating habits of your peers, that is until Clary witnesses a murder. But this is no ordinary murder, the corpse vanishes and it appears that only Clary can see the killers...

Clare created an unimaginable world, yet at the same time made it so touchable. I had the same eerie feeling when reading Scott Westerfeld's books; that feeling that somewhere in the world, this could really happen. I read this in little over twenty-four hours, and am currently dying as the library doesn't have the second copy in.


One of the most memorable traits was how flawed the characters were. It was, of course, in a good way, allowing them to change allegiances freely. This, in turn, made the plot totally unpredictable, and I will be the first to admit I was shocked by the ending. I also loved Alex (is it Alec? I can't remember...whoops!). I loved him. He was one of those not-mentioned-a-whole-lot people that I fell in love with, despite his petty love life. I also loved how recent issues were brought into the novel (I won't give it away), making the entire thing seem so much more realistic, contributing to that creepy-factor I mentioned earlier.


Again, I'm dying to read the second, but some goon at my library just won't turn it in. I wish I could yell at him to hurry up! A definite 5 stars from me!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Geektastic: Stories From the Nerd Herd


geek : 1. a person often of intellectual bent who is disapproved of 2. a person who is so passionate about a given subject or subjects as to occasionally cause annoyance among others

geektastic : marked by fantastic geek qualities; a compliment of the highest regard

Acclaimed authors Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci have united in geekdom to bring together short stories from some of the best-selling and most promising players in young adult literature, including stories from the following geeks: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Tracy Lynn, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfeld, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr.

Geektastic covers all things geeky, from Klingons and Jedi Knights to fan fiction, theater geeks, and cosplayers. Whether you're a former, current, or future geek, or if you just want to get in touch with your inner geek, Geektastic will help you get your geek on!

I was in love with this book as soon as I pulled it out of the mailbox. Everything I saw at first glance was perfect, the title, the subtitle, and the cover art. I find it difficult to review a collection, because I want to talk about each story individually, but that would take seven million light years. So here are some of my favorites:

One of Us by Tracy Lynn
This was about a popular cheerleader desperately trying to connect with her jock-football-and-Star-Wars-obsessed boyfriend. So she turned to the expert geeks, and paid them to teach her how to be a geek. I found this absolutely hysterical. The whole plot was wonderful, and the individual geeks in it who each had different areas of expertise was genius.

The Stars at the Finish Line by Wendy Mass
I actually related well to this story. Two geniuses vied for the grades, the colleges, and ultimately, who got to be an astronaut. Mass portrayed the sense of competition among teens well, and how much pressure is on kids to do everything perfectly. I loved the constant rivalry between the two characters, and felt close to them even though I only had twenty or so pages to get to know them.

Freak the Geek by John Green
I'll admit it. I'm a HUGE John Green fan. I've read everything he's written, and I was astounded once again. Freak the Geek was a phrase used by popular kids to let geeks know they were about to get freaked. If you think about it, it's the dumbest thing ever, but so dumb, that it's hysterical. I actually laughed out loud when the two geeks pondered that question themselves. No wonder Green is amazing.

All in all, I wasn't disappointed, and loved it just as much as I thought I would. Hands down a 5!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rubber Houses


Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans
Publication Date: January 3, 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 152
Format Read: library book


A typical teenager, Kit lives a happy, normal life involving friends, boys, and a loving family. She and her younger brother, Buddy, are incredibly close despite their age difference, connected by a shared love of baseball and math. But then tragedy strikes, and the family struggles to survive.

I was surprised that this much of a summary went with this book. It is written in verse, and though that is no problem with me, I thought the story could have been told better if it weren't. In fact, there wasn't much story. I really learned nothing about her normal life, as seen in the blurb from the back, it immediately dives into her brother's struggle with cancer.


It's no secret, seeing as there is no real plot to spoil. The poems made no sense and were not chronologically ordered in any way. The book was only 152 pages long and the font was huge, so that's about it. It's a 1.0, don't even bother.


In the mean time, I got my hands on an ARC of Geektastic today! I'm really excited, and breezed through the first story. It's wonderful so far.


Also, has anyone heard anything about that new television show Impact? It is about how a meteor knocks the moon closer to earth. It mirrors Susan Beth Pfeiffer's novels Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone. I'm not really sure what's up with that, but thought it was interesting, because it didn't say anything about her. The show looks identical. ?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spring Awakening and Shoutouts




I just saw Spring Awakening a few nights ago. I am at a loss for words (which NEVER happens). For those of you who live under a rock and don't know (acutally this isn't that popular), Spring Awakening is an eight-time Tony-Award Winning Broadway musical, full of controversy and scandal, and wasn't produced until nearly one hundred years later. (Started out as a play, now it's a musical)


It's Germany 1891. A world where grown-ups hold all the cards. The beautiful young Wendla explores the mysteries of her body, and wonders aloud where babies come from, until Mama tells her to shut it, and put on a proper dress.

Elsewhere, the brilliant and fearless young Melchior interrupts a mind-numbing Latin drill to defend his friend Moritz- a boy so traumatized by sex he can't concentrate on anything else. Not that the Headmaster cares. He strikes them both and tells them to turn in their lesson.


One afternoon- in a private place in the woods- Melchior and Wendla meet by accident, and soon find within themselves a desire unlike anything they've ever felt.

I won't write more for it will ruin it, but be prepared for full-frontal nudity. Lea Michele played Wendla in the original Broadway cast (she plays Rachel in the new show Glee), and I saw Kyle Riabko as Melchior, who was on Broadway as well. He's no Jonathan Groff, but still mighty pretty. I also saw Blake Bashoff in the role of Moritz. For those who don't know, he was Karl on Lost. You know, the evil Ben's daughter's boyfriend. His hair was the best thing that's ever happened to Earth. I loved every second of it beyond anything I'd ever imagined.

Click here for the Tony performance
Click here for the Official Spring Awakening site
While I'm at the choral stuff, click here for my choir's performance of Cloudburst (this crazy Eric Whitacre song with instrumentals and lots of sound effect stuff - all played by US)

Now, I want to give a shout out to the new show Glee! It deserves so much praise, and people need to stop ransacking them about how they're not singing. They are, but obviously it's voiced-over. It's the same people, but you have to film the two separately. And the choral version of Don't Stop Believing was fantastic! Realistic or not! Once again, Lea Michele is amazing, and the guy is also really great! I don't know who he is, but I'll find out soon! I hope he continues to sing!





Peeled

Peeled by Joan Bauer
Publication Date: May 1, 2008
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 256
Format Read: library book

Summary: Hildy Biddle is a high school reporter eager to stand up for the truth. She's just waiting for a chance to prove herself as a journalist, and yearning for a big story. The trouble is, the town' biggest story stars...a ghost! Not a very easy interview! This ghost has the town in a tizzy, and the local paper is playing up people's fears with shocking headlines of eerie happenings and ghostly sightings. Hildy is determined to discover what's really going on, but her desire to uncover the truth is making some people awfully nervous.


This tale was mostly a coming-of-age-learning-to-fend-for-yourself story. I thought the blurb was highly misleading once finishing the book. It's not so much a fun light-hearted mystery as a predictable tale of standing up for what's right. I feel like there was so much that could've been done with the story and characters, I was felt left out in the blue when it was over. A longer story never hurts.


Hildy (I loved her name) was a delightful character from what I saw. I was so disappointed that Joan Bauer didn't go into any more detail than she did about her past. Her boyfriends both cheated on her, and her dad died. That's really all that is given to the reader, which is highly unsettling. I also liked the "bad guy" Pen Piedmont, enemy journalist of The Bee (the other town newspaper). He was so easy to dislike, but his villainry (new word!) wasn't played upon enough to feel as though he were an actual villain. He felt more like a distraught wanna-be actual character in the book, so he appeared every so often to make himself feel better.


The plot was gripping, but like everything else, could have used some detail. This was the first Joan Bauer book I've read since the 5th grade, and as far as I remember, she used to be better. This did not meet my expectations at all.


The cover gets several extra points though. That's what made me pick it up in the first place. Definitely a pleasing-to-the-eye photo.


Rating: 3.4
It was a happy book. [See title of blog]

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Spud


Spud by John Van De Ruit
Publication Date: March 20, 2006
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 352
Format Read: library book

Summary: It's 1990. Apartheid is crumbling. Nelson Mandela has just been released from prison. And Spud Milton- a thirteen-year-old prepubescent choir boy- is about to start his first year at an elite boys-only boarding school in Durban, South Africa.
Cursed with embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, a senile granny named Wombat, and a wild obsession with Julia Roberts, Spud has his hands full trying to adapt to his new home.
Armed with only his wits and his diary, Spud takes his first hilarious steps towards manhood- learning a little about life, first loves, and friendship along the way.

I was slightly surprised when I began reading this book. It was nothing like what I had thought it was going to be. I enjoyed reading a diary from the perspective of a tween boy (I found it amusing), and especially one as funny as this. It was a less obvious sort of funny. I especially enjoyed the characters Spud was friends with, including his bunk mate, Vern, who behaved like a cat and pulled his hair out (raving mad). I also enjoyed the development of his prefect he slaved after, Earthworm, who hid under the stairs and drove himself mad studying for finals.

What I didn't like was the fact that there was no plot. None at all, unless you count the auditions for the musical Oliver Twist and the suspense leading up to it a plot. It was merely full of funny stories and adventures that happened over the course of a year. I was searching for one until about halfway through, then gave up and wished for the book to be over.

It was interesting, though, and held my attention. It just wasn't my cup of tea (maybe it's coffee- I hate coffee). In the end, I'd score it about a 3.5, for its subtle sarcasm and wit.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pushing Daisies is Back in Business!
























The fantastically jovial show about dead people is back! After taking too long of a hiatus from the second season, last night was finally a new episode. The show runs on ABC on Saturdays now at 10:00. It was cancelled long ago, and sadly still is, but ABC agreed to run the last three un-aired episodes for us loyal fans.

For those who don't watch the show: GO BUY THE FIRST SEASON. It will make you happier than you've ever felt. Here's a summary I snagged off its home page.

As a young boy Ned discovers that he can return the dead briefly to life with just one touch. But his random gift isn't without deadly consequences& as he soon finds out. He discovers the rules of his gift early: First touch - alive; second touch - dead again, forever; Keep something alive for more than a minute and something else has to die in its place.

Grown up Ned (Lee Pace) puts his talent to good use by touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavor. He opens a pie shop. But his life as a pie maker gets more complicated when private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) discovers Ned's secret. Emerson convinces the cash-strapped Ned to help him solve murder cases (and collect a hefty reward fee) by raising the dead and getting them to name their killers.

Then Ned is handed the case that changes his life forever. His childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), is murdered on a cruise ship under strange circumstances. Her death brings him back to his hometown of Coeur d' Coeur to bring Chuck back to life, albeit briefly, and to solve the crime. But once reunited with Chuck, Ned can't bring himself to touch her again.

Chuck becomes the third partner in Ned and Emerson's PI enterprise, but she encourages them to use their skills for good, not just for profit. Ned is overjoyed to be reunited with Chuck, the only girl he's ever loved. Life would be perfect, except for one cruel twist: If Ned ever touches her again, she'll go back to being dead, this time for good.



It's a mix of CSI meets Dr. Suess and a Harlequin Romance novel, with a little bit of everything in between. Especially if you're a theatre fan. Kristin Chenoweth and Ellen Greene frequently burst into songs, such as the Sound of Music and Hopelessly Devoted to You.

My friends and I used to have Pie Party Wednesdays (the old run-time) and eat pie while watching the happiest show on Earth.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Off Season

The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publication Date: June 4, 2007
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 277
Format Read: library book

Summary: Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She's made it to the eleventh grade, finally. After a rocky summer, she's reconnecting with her best friend, Amber. She's got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson, who's cute and popular and smart, but seems to like her anyway. Plus there's the fact that she's playing for the Red Bend High School football team as probably the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin.

But then, as the season, which began so well, starts to go suddenly, horribly wrong. As autumn progresses, D.J. struggles to understand what's happening with football, Brian, Amber, and most of all her family. And as her life turns completely upside down, she discovers she's a lot stronger than she- or anyone- ever thought.

The book started off wonderfully, with an unlikely yet lovable heroine. Six-foot-and-growing D.J. was such a different person than any other I've read about, I loved her with all my heart, seeing a bit of my old self in her. Unfortunately, she was the only character that was spoken about enough and given an actual personality in the whole story. I was left wondering all about Brian and Amber, along with her near-unmentionable siblings. Characters are vital in developing a good story, and this just didn't have any.

Once again, the general plot was decent in the beginning, but dragged on throughout the book, and I felt myself not really wanting to finish it. It wasn't terrible, but there were definitely unnecessary conversations and events that concerned characters that were hardly there, and made the story seem divergent and distracted.

It wasn't terrible, but deserves no more than a 2.5. Just not that great.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Life As We Knew It


Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 337
Format read: library book

Summary: When Miranda first hears the warnings that a meteor is headed on a collision path with the moon, they just sound like excuses for extra homework assignments. But her disbelief turns to fear in a split second as the entire world witnesses a lunar impact that knocks the moon closer in orbit, catastrophically altering the earth's climate.
Everything else in Miranda's life fades away as supermarkets run out of food, gas goes up to more than ten dollars a gallon, and school is closed indefinitely. But what Miranda and her family don't realize is that the worst is yet to come...

This book was eerie, with it's scientific explanations of this life-altering event. Definitely similar to a Scott Westerfeld book, it made me wonder if this type of thing could ever happen. As Miranda and her family began to run out of food, and conditions got worse, she learned to love more than she ever thought she would, and also learned the importance of family.

Pfeffer did an outstanding job at keeping this thriller going, but seemed as though she was tired of writing, so she simply stopped. There seems to be no definite ending, which really bothered me. It earns a 4.0, simply because I couldn't get past the fact that nothing really sums up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Nature of Jade

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Publication Date: February 27, 2007
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 288
Keywords: love, animals, romance
Format read: library book

Summary: Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, Jade DeLuna is trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, which is where she first sees Sebastian.
When she finally meets him, their connection is immediate, and soon Jade is drawn into the cozy life Sebastian has with his son and grandmother on their Seattle houseboat. Even though the situation is complicated, Jade hasn't felt this safe in a long time.
Until she learns that Sebastian is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right...


I immediately fell in love with the complicated mind of Jade. I have Panic Disorder as well, and connecting with the character was unreal to me. Caletti did an excellent job of telling her story through her words, actions, and thoughts. Tying in the zoo was a brilliant move, and I learned a lot about the behavior of elephants. That humans and animals are no different from one another. We have emotions. We have families. And the feeling of betrayal can be felt by animals as well as humans, and lasts just as long.

I was genuinely shocked towards the end of the novel. I honestly became unsure of what to expect next, which rarely happens in teen romance books. This was so much more than that. This was about life, death, and the rebirth of things long forgotten. It touched me deeply.

This comes in at a 4.5, and I will definitely be looking out for more Caletti novels.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Other Half of Me


The Other Half of Me by Emily Franklin
Publication Date: September 11, 2007
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 256
Format Read: library book

Summary: Unlike her three younger siblings, Jeny Fitzgerald knows her biological father only as Donor #142. It's never been a secret, and up until now it hasn't mattered much. But as Jenny's summer draws to a close, it suddenly means everything. With her epic crush, the gorgeous jock Tate Brodeur, by her side, Jenny searches for a genetic relative in the Donor Sibling Registry and discovers that she has a half-sister, Alexa. Jenney hopes their relationship will fill the gaps in her life, but when Alexa shos up on her doorstep for a surprise visit, the changes in Jenny's world are much bigger than she could have ever imagined.

I imagine that if I read this book during the hot month of August, laying out on the porch with a lemonade and my dog at my side, I would have thought it was a work of genius. Sadly, I read this while pseudo-studying for my AP History exam, ergo, did not find it profoundly wondrous.

It had a Meg Cabot-esque feel to it, the simple predictability and the obvious love line. However, I felt I hardly knew any character other than Jenny. Tate was surprisingly dull, and apparently possessed no unusual qualities. The two polar opposites (Jenny, an art freak, Tate, a buff football macho-man) clicked unnaturally in the cycle of "he looked at me, he said a word, we're in love now."

I didn't not like it. The plot line was wonderful and had a feel about it that you knew the story was going to be good, end well, but still could take twisting turns. The characters (oh-so-important bits of the story) were just lackluster, and were not developed enough as one would hope for.
A solid 3.5. The .5 is only added because it helped me through a major migraine I've had this week, and was just fun enough to make you think it was summer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Keeping Faith


Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
Publication Date: April 22, 1999
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 422
Format Read: library book

Summary: When seven-year-old Faith White and her mother, Mariah, swing by the house on the way to ballet class, they find that Daddy is home and he's brought a playmate. This is not the first time he's been caught cheating. After a divorce has been filed and Dad has moved out, Faith begins talking to an imaginary friend who, it seems, is God. And God is not male but female. Faith is able to effect miraculous cures and is also occasionally afflicted with stigmata,a disease which inflicts wounds at the hands, feet, and side, as Jesus was wounded.

Mariah doesn't know what to believe. She wants to believe her daughter, but since she previously attempted suicide, no one believes her. When the media gets wind of the God-seeing child, the circus begins. The local rabbi takes an interest (Faith and Mariah are technically Jewish), and the local Catholic priest pays several inquiring visits. There is also a gang of psychologists who pay visits. Throw in a professional atheist for the romance angle and a vicious custody fight with an egomaniacal lawyer, and you have a riveting read.

Picoult once again dazzles us with a piece of art so enchanting it's hard to pull away. This book had me yearning for more, skipping meals and lessons to become a part of Mariah and Faith's world. It was so emotionally heavy that I felt as if I had a respnsibility to believe Faith, so she would be okay through her sicknesses.

Turns in the plot were unpredictable for the most part. I did not expect certain things to happen, and found myself shocked when something didn't happen. Ian Fletcher was my favorite character, playing the atheist rooting on the other team, but I found myself pulling for him all the way. He was lovable, and like so many in the world today, who swear they don't believe in God, but find that all along, they've just never looked This book earns a perfect 5 star rating.

Airhead


Airhead by Meg Cabot
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
Publisher: Point
Pages: 337
Format Read: Hardcover

Summary: Em Watts is gone. Emerson Watts didn't even want to go to the new SoHo Stark Megastore grand opening. But someone needed to look out for her sister, Frida, whose crush, British heartthrob Gabriel Luna, would be singing and signing autographs there — along with the newly appointed Face of Stark, teen supermodel sensation Nikki Howard. 
How was Em to know that disaster would strike, changing her — and life as she'd known it — forever? One bizarre accident later, and Em Watts, always the tomboy, never the party princess, is no longer herself. Literally.

Ah, Meg Cabot. She's wowed us all before, but this time, I thought it was lacking. Emerson Watts, the classic Cabot star, a tomboy, and a major feminist, has to take her little sister to the grand opening of a mega-store, where a tween star will also be performing. It's her worst nightmare come true.

This horrible day turns into a disaster and changes her life- literally. Getting her best friend and the love of her life to notice she is a girl is now the least of her worries.

It had the classic storyline, with the star-crossed lovers destined to be together, the best friend, and the inevitable twist to the story I won't give away. Despite the charm she displayed in the novel, it was not my favorite. A light, fun read, perfect for tanning or procrastinating on a project, but not something to rush out and buy. Only 3 stars. It does deserve three because it did keep me entranced, yearning to find out (even though I already knew) what would happen between the two destined to be together forever.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sleepaway Girls

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
Publication Date: May 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 304
Keywords: camp, romance, summer
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

When Sam's best friend gets her first boyfriend, she's not ready to spend the summer listening to the two of them call each other "pookie." Sick of being a third wheel, Sam applies to be a counselor-in-training at Whispering Pines camp in the New York Catskills. But what she doesn't realize is that it's not going to be all Kumbaya sing-a-longs and gooey s'mores. If Ashley, the alpha queen of Whispering Pines, doesn't ruin Sam's summer, then her raging crush on the surfer-blond and flirtatious Hunter just might. At least she has playful Cole, who's always teasing her, but is oh-so-comfortable to hang out with, and the singular gang of girls that become fast friends with Sam — they call themselves the Sleepaway Girls.

I was hooked from the moment I started this book (finishing it in about a mere 5 hours!). The characters are lovable, the dialogue was intriguing and real, and the storyline, though predictable, was grasping.


The main character, Sam, has realized that she wants to break away from her best friend Mal, who now has no time for her. Thinking of herself, and not thinking at all, she signed up to be a camp counselor (counselor in training, or CIT) at Whispering Pines Camp.

She quickly learns that it's not just Kumbayah and S'mores; she finds it's actually hard work. And with Ashley, the snobbiest girl at the camp (as well as the director's daughter), criticizing her every move, she finds it hard to fit in. She does though, and meets many new friends, as well as attracts the attention of two boys. Hunter, the dream hunk, and Cole, the friendly-with-kids sweetheart who is determined to not let Sam get hurt by Hunter.

This is a tale filled with self-actualization. The story line is predictable, but intriguing at the same time, urging you to travel with Sam, and discover what's so great about the outdoors in the first place. It is also a tale of friendship, and finding it's okay to make new friends without feeling guilty you forgot your old ones. Being inside Sam's head was overly enjoyable, learning all about her personality and predicting the choices she'll make. (See, AP Psychology DOES have a use!) It earns a solid three stars, but don't skip over it. It was very appealing and cleverly worded. It was most definitely a chick flick. 

Read When: You are in the mood for a fun, light-hearted romance/friendship book you can curl up with and spend an evening reading the whole freaking thing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Max: A Maximum Ride Novel


Max: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson
Publication Date: March 16, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
Pages: 309
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Maximum Ride and the other members of the flock have barely recovered from their last Arctic adventure, when they are confronted by the most frightening catastrophe yet. Millions of fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii and someone — or something — is destroying hundreds of ships. Unable to discover the cause, the government enlists the flock to help them get to the bottom of the disaster before it is too late.
While Max and her team are exploring the depths of the ocean, their every move is being carefully tracked by Mr. Chu — a criminal mastermind with his own plans for the flock. Can they protect themselves from Mr. Chu's army of mercenaries and save the ocean from utter destruction?

This fifth installment of James Patterson's popular young adult serieswas loads better than the fourth. If you haven't read the others, the premise is that basically, the group of kids who save the world, better known as "the flock," have wings. The kind that jut out from their backs and spread to help them fly. Max, Iggy, Fang, Gazzy, Nudge, Angel, and their talking dog, Total, are on board with the Coalition to Stop the Madness (in other words, the organization against destruction of Earth and life as we know it).


Unfortunately for them, someone is not on agreeable terms with the CSM. In an attempt to get the flock to stop the CSM's awareness for ocean safety, the "evil team" kidnaps Max's mother. Now the flock must attempt to stop these destroying machines before they destroy the flock. All this has to happen while underwater, where flying ability is next to useless.

Patterson restored hope in me that these books weren't turning for the worse. He recreated that sense of disbelief that existed in the first book. The world is just so real, so touchable, that it almost makes me think this could be out there. We have the knowledge to do this. It almost reminded me of a Scott Westerfeld novel, the way the science fiction met reality. The characters also became infinitely more developed and relatable that before, making me enjoy the novel tons more.

Overall, not too shabby. 4: A need to read, but not quite perfect.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Publication Date: September 12, 2006
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 406
Keywords: mystery, writing, family
Format Read: paperback I own
Get It: Book Depository

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.
Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.
As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. 
The Thirteenth Tale is part suspense, mystery, murder, arson, love, and belonging. Solitary and isolated author Vida Winter was famous for her storytelling, most well-known, her collection of twelve enchanting tales. She has spent her whole life creating facades for herself, none of which come close to her truth. Now she is old and dying, and she calls upon a young biographer named Margaret Lea, who is troubled by her own painful history. Vida slowly begins telling Margeret everything- of the spontaneous Isabelle and rage-filled Charlie, of the reckless twins Adeline and Emmeline, an orphan Aurelius, a ghost who haunts Vida and her memories, a beautiful blossoming garden, and a devastating fire. Margaret finds herself mesmerized by her story, attached to it in a deeper way than she can imagine. Together, they confront the ghosts that haunt them, and face the truth about themselves.

Diane Setterfield created a world that drew me in. I felt as though I were a part of Margaret's story, intertwined with all the characters, knowing every twist and turn the tale would take. I found myself attached to the characters, willing them to take certain actions because I wanted everything to turn out okay.

She crafted the words together in such a way, and joined together sub-plots so well that it had me longing for more. I loved the way the book was so unpredictable, I stopped trying to figure out what was going to happen next, and instead, I just let the words consume me. Everything was so real, so perfect, and I fell immediately in love with it. I know I won't find another book like it for a long time.

5 stars. Hands down.