Sunday, September 14, 2014

Downsiders: Review

Author: Neal Shusterman
Age range: 13-17
Content: Mild romance, no sexual content, no language, mild violence
Genre: Science Fiction / Teen Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 244
Where to get it: Barnes & NobleAmazonTargetHalf-Price Books

Underneath New York City is a secret, underground, full-functioning society called Downside. There's a strict code of secrecy among the Downsiders. Inevitably, the two worlds collide when Talon, a fourteen-year-old Downsider meets Lindsay, a Topsider. The two have fun discovering the unknowns of each other's worlds, but a forbidden romance is punishable by death to any Downsider who breaks the code of secrecy.

The author of this book, Neal Shusterman, has written a fair few books. I've read one other besides Downsiders and it was called Unwind. I read it last year and it was pretty good. I think I liked it. I will put a link HERE if you want to read my full review.

I believe this book is older than Unwind. Whereas Unwind was more about an alternate world and society with no real ties to how we live our lives now and the struggles within that world, Downsiders is about problems that we often overlook in our modern lifestyle and adding a perspective that you wouldn't normally consider.

Neal Shusterman explains in the acknowledgements that the story is based off of "mole people" (i.e. hobos that take refuge in subway tunnels and other underground places). I thought that was really cool and I liked how it really was a city underneath a city. Everything was so involved and diverse in the community of Downside was. I really liked how they collected lost earrings, not knowing what they were, and hung them up like stars. I also just really liked how well-thought out the rules and lifestyle of the underground society was.

The writing is very good but also very unlike Unwind. Like if nobody told me that this was Neal Shusterman, I never would've known. The writing is just so different. Except for one thing: the characters were equally as brief. I wish the characters had more depth and you got to know them better. The story was more about the evolution of Downside than the actual character development. It could've been about both and made the book a little bit longer.

Overall, I liked this book. It gets a thumbs up from me. Some of Shusterman's other books peak my interest so I might read more of his recent stuff. I probably won't read Downsiders again. I'll probably give it to my mom or my sister to read because it is a nice book. It's very sweet and interesting. I recommend this to people who like short, quick, easy reads.

Okay, I hope you enjoyed my first post of September and I'll be back soon. Bye.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Those People Who Imagine For a Living: Part Two

I've decided I'm going to do this every once in a while. If you're confused as to what "this" is, it's a list of my favorite authors of this moment. Usually, they stay the same. So if you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll have seen most of these names before.

Rainbow Rowell: 
This month I read Landline, her newest novel. I love it. I love her. Highly recommend all of her books.

Billie Letts: 
Just recently I read her book Where the Heart Is and it was adorable. I loved it. I'm excited to read more of her work.

Ray Bradbury: 
Fahrenheit 451 is an awesome read. Full review coming soon.

Edgar Rice Burrough:
I have no clue if he's written anything besides Tarzan of the Apes. But I really liked Tarzan and the way it was written.

Rob Lowe:
Fun fact: I love Rob Lowe. He's one of my favorite actors, like, ever. I recently discovered his biography called Stories I Only Tell My Friends. It's really sweet and interesting. I will review in full very, very soon.

Markus Zusak: 
Book Thief is great, so is I am the Messenger. I did a review on the second one last month and I really liked it.

Stephen Emond: 
I flipped through Happyface and Wintertown a few days ago and I don't know. Those books just make me smile. Stephen Emond is not only a talented author, but also an artist. His artwork is found in both of his novels.

Like last time, it's a short list. But, you know, one can only read so much. I hope you got something out of this. Okay, yeah, so long August. Bye.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where the Heart Is: Review

Author: Billie Letts
Age range: 16 & up
Content: Moderate romance, mild sexual content, mild language, moderate violence
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 384
Where to get it: Barnes & NobleAmazonTargetHalf-Price Books

For most people, sevens are lucky. But for Novalee Nation, seventeen, seven months pregnant, heading to California with her boyfriend, it's the exact opposite. She finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma with just $7.77 in change and a whole lot of bad luck. What Novalee doesn't know is that she's about to come across a group of down-to-earth, warm-hearted, deeply caring people willing to help out a homeless, jobless girl secretly living in a Wal-Mart. From religious blue-haired Sister Husband to intellectual Forney Hull who may love Novalee more than she loves herself, they're all about to take her on a moving, hilarious journey to... Where the Heart Is.

First things first, I didn't read this because it's apart of Oprah's Book Club. I just wanted to make that clear because I really don't like her or her show or her book club. Sorry, Oprah.

 Disclaimer: I watched the movie before I read the book. (Natalie Portman made an adorable Novalee.) Don't kill me. I didn't know it was a book until the credits were rolling.

I think the only thing about this book that I wasn't crazy about was the title. When you search it up on B&N or Amazon, this book shows up, but in a sea of other stories with the same name. There were so many other great lines in the book that she could've used as the title. None that I can name off the top of my head, but I remember thinking it. Other than that, I absolutely loved the story.

Novalee was a great female character. She was strong and likable and charismatic. I think she's one of my new favorite literary characters of all time. All the characters were great and just such characters. They were all so different and lively with their own backstories and leftover heartaches. It was all such a good balance of different people wanting different things and all of them wanting the same thing. I also liked how it wasn't just Novalee's story. It was everyone's story.

I loved all the names. I love when authors give their characters original, interesting names. Actually, I just like it when people, in general, have original, interesting names.

The style of writing was really easy to read and the plot was easy to keep up with without being boring. There was always something happening but it was never too much. There was a lot of description, but, again, it was never too much. The story never came to a stand-still. The characters kept moving, changing with their lives.

I recommend this to people who like stuff like Nicolas Sparks or other romance-y, mild adult books. I've only read one Nicolas Sparks book. But this book still seemed very similar in writing and style and genre. (I think Billie Letts is better, though.) I highly recommend this to anyone, actually. This would make a good beach or travel or car book. It's just a really nice cute story that would be appealing to a wide range of readers.

If you're wondering, the movie is also really good. They changed some things. Like in the movie, Novalee is superstitious about fives instead of sevens. Little things like that. But it worked well in the transition from novel to film.

Overall, I loved this book and I think you'd like it, too. I hope you enjoyed reading my review and I will be back, at some point before Saturday. Later.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1): Review

Author: Patrick Ness
Age range: 13-17
Content: Mild romance, no sexual content, moderate language, moderate violence
Genre: Teen Fiction / Teen Action & Adventure
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 512
Where to get it: Barnes & NobleAmazonTargetHalf-Price Books

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in a town of men. He can hear everything they're thinking. And they can hear everything he's thinking. He doesn't fit into their plans. One month away from his birthday that will make him a man, Todd realizes that his town is keeping secrets from him. Secrets that will make him want to run.

This book was published in 2008. And I've never heard of it or seen in B&N at all until two weeks ago. I can totally see this being one of those books that they make into a movie and everyone freaks out over like it's the hottest new thing even though it's been out for six years.

Not gonna lie, I wasn't super impressed with this book. The characters were one-dimensional. The format of writing was gimmicky. The plot was unspectacular. Nothing impressed me. 

Todd's motives weren't clear at all. Even after reading five hundred pages, I still don't know what it was that Todd wanted for himself and for his future. At first, he wants to be a man. Within that period, I got the feeling that he didn't want to be in Prentisstown and that he was resentful towards the town in general. But then shortly after, he expresses not wanting to leave. Then he actually does leave and shows very survival-esque, bland mindset towards his entire situation. Then he shows emotional remorse and overall attachment to his old life. I don't know if Ness was trying to show character development in Todd. But it went too up and down for me. The only thing that clearly developed was Todd's affection for his dog. Other than that there was nothing to develop.

The format and style was weird. There were a lot of one sentence paragraphs.
it seems like the author is just trying too use up more pages than necessary. It didn't seem crucial to the overall storytelling part of the book. I'm not even kidding, it was pages of crap like that. And the plot was predictable. I found myself waiting for them to unveil the "big twist" that I already predicted. 

This book reminded me of Dark Eden which I have read and reviewed. The premise and style of both books was similar. I recommend this if you really liked Dark Eden.

Overall, I didn't really like this book. I wasn't impressed or excited by it. I won't read it again and it didn't make my list of favorites. Okay, I think that's all for now. I hope your August has been cool so far. Thanks for reading. BYE. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tarzan of the Apes: Review

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Age range: 17 & up
Content: Moderate romance, moderate sexual content, mild language, high violence
Genre: Classic Fiction / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Publisher: ???
Pages: 310
Where to get it: Barnes & NobleAmazonTargetHalf-Price Books

The classic tale of an English Lord who was raised by apes, realizing his birthright and coming to terms with his humanness.

The only reason I decided read this was because I loved the Disney cartoon movie. I used to watch it all the time when I was younger. I watched it again for the first time in years and then I found out that it's a book. At first I was apprehensive because usually, older books are a little harder to read. Then I saw that many people said they read and loved it as a kid, so I figured, "Well how bad could it be?" I was pleasantly surprised and ended up loving it.

This book was originally published in 1912. So the style of writing is very different but out of all the classics I've read, this one was definitely one of the easier ones. It wasn't like Pride and Prejudice where every sentence is a riddle. The writing was simple and exciting and interesting.

It was a lot gorier than Disney's version of the story and just gorier than I thought it would be considering people read when they were children. It wasn't unnecessary though. All the gory was needed to tell the story accurately. There's a lot more death and the story is told with more of an animal-esque detachment. It's definitely not as personable as Disney's version. It's harsher and colder. I mean, it is about animals in the wild. But there are moments that are quite sweet and genuine. It's a good mix.

I recommend this if you have seen and enjoyed the Disney film as a kid. It's always nice to read a story that you liked in your younger years and to see it in a different light. You get to learn about the realities of Tarzan and all the questions you might have had as a kid are answered.

If you have a hard time finding it, go to Barnes & Noble. They have it added to their Classics series. So yeah. I hope you enjoyed my review of Tarzan of the Apes. Happy back to school week, I guess. I think public school started. I don't know. Okay. Bye.