The Game by Terry Schott

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Well hello there faithful followers! Long time no see!! Sorry about my disappearing act and man is there news!

Book Expo America is in 44 days!! (SQUEEE!)

AND… Kiera Kass’s third novel, The One, is coming out in 22 DAYS!!! (IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!!! OMG!!! I CAN’T EVEN HOLD MYSELF STILL!!!!!)

And now, on to the review!!

During the first pages of The Game, by terry Schott, Zach, the hero of the story, is dying. He describes dying and then suddenly wakes up, and is in the body of a 17 year old.  The explanation, Zach lives in a world called Tygon, where at a young age children are put into  “the Game”.  The Game is a real life simulation that takes place on the actual Earth.  Whenever you go into the Game as you live your life you acquire credits, which once you turn 18 can be turned into cash.  The only thing you can buy with credits until you are 18 are more plays in the Game, power-ups, and other such things in which to help you in life.

Zach is one of the lucky players, he started as an orphan, a nobody, when all of the sudden he rockets to the fast track on a Game play that puts him in one of the top positions.  Due to this he is picked up by a patron, and not just any patron, he is picked up by Brandon Strayne, the maker of the Game.

Zach, however, is 17 and is turning 18 in a few weeks, and he has two choices, he could play it safe and retire in a really good position, or he could risk it all and retire in the number one spot, a feat that has only happened 11 other times in the 30 years of the Game.  Will Zach make the cut, what will the 30th anniversary of the game hold, and is it possible that the mainframe, the computer that controls it all, is becoming self aware?  You’ll have to read The Game by Terry Schott to find out!

I really LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! It’s like the movie Inception coupled with the Hunger Games series, add to that a sweet romance ala the Notebook… It’s like a SMORE!!! with all that warm marshmallow chocolate gooeyness surrounded by a crunchy graham cracker crust.  Can you tell I’m hungry…

SNACK TIME!

Izzy :Z

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Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

 

Because they said so (what your parents might say): Nothing much, just a little bit of blood, some not too graphic deaths, and a light and innocent romantic lean… an exciting adventure of a book overall.

Three Willows

The way we come about my newest review, “Three Willows”, by Ann Brashars, the author of The Sisterhood of the Ttraveling Pants fame, is an interesting story.  I found “Willows”, staring at me from atop a high shelf in my school library.  I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that a whole TON of  interesting books can be found in the most unattainable places, such as the highest level of a shelf, miserably out of my reach.

You might be asking how I got it down.  To that, I would say, understanding, of course, that this little tidbit will stay between you and me, that I climbed up the “staff only” ladder that I saw nearby… Shhhhhh.   And for my “against-school-policy” efforts, we have another marvelous find to go on the keeper shelf.

Ama, Polly and Jo, the three main characters of Three Willows, coincidentally, also have an interesting story.  On the first day of third grade all three of their parents were very late.  Jo, being the adventurous gal of the three, proposes that they fly the coop (or the math tutor room) to walk home themselves.  All agree and are walking home when just as they are nearing the 7 Eleven, it starts to rain.  Being third graders, they decide to stop in for blue slushies and Butterfingers candy bars, using money that Jo finds in her back pack.  After they are done eating they finish the walk to their houses never realizing that they have just begun the best of friendships.

Their friendship goes on unperturbed until the summer before high school, where we meet up with the friends again.  Jo suddenly becomes a popular girl, and Ama becomes a know it all with no time for anything but learning and Polly seems to be the same artsy, fun, cutoff-Gap-jean-wearing whimsical girl that she has always been.

Ama’s family is originally from Ghana but moved to America to improve Ama’s older sister Esi’s chance of going to a good college.  Esi immediately thrived and skipped two grade levels.   Ama relentlessly studies to prove that she too is smart and as a result, gets accepted to an elite summer camp, Andover, the same place that one of her other friends applied to.

When Ama gets her letter of acceptance however, instead of saying Andover, it says Wild Adventures, a hiking and outdoors camp.  Ama is afraid of bugs, hates heights, and has hair that does NOT respond well to humid air.  Ama is so grade obsessed though that she is prepared to rough it out.

Jo and her mother’s summer is supposed to be nothing but relaxing as they stay at their beach house for the vacation , but her parent’s separation, a mean girl at work, a treacherous friend that only survives on horrible gossip about Jo, creates an entirely different mood.  It is turning into a summer that is anything but relaxing.  When Jo meets Zach, a very handsome boy, on a bus back to her beach house, things crash down very quickly.

Polly’s Grandmother was a model.  Polly suddenly has a major idea! Maybe she could be a model to!  She immediately signs herself up for a modeling camp.  She goes on a model diet, which is a synonym for being an anorexic.  About halfway through the summer Polly goes to visit Jo at her beach house to tell her the news.  Jo’s friends are horrified by Polly’s little girl whimsicality.  One day, early in the morning, one of Jo’s friends asks Jo why Polly is even at the beach house as she clearly doesn’t fit in.  Jo says that she wishes that Polly would leave.  Polly overhears everything and dashes out of beach house and catches the next bus home.  Polly then applies for a major modeling showcase.

Will Polly get into the showcase?   Will Ama survive the summer at outdoor adventure camp? Will Jo maintain her popular mean girl façade?  To find out I guess you’ll just have to read Three Willows, by Ann Brashares.

Izzy :Z

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Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

Because they said so (what your parents would say):  Nothing horrible really, but some realistic addressing of issues… kissing, mentions of some stronger stuff, alcoholism, and eating disorders, but nothing your average 12-13 year old hasn’t heard of and would be unable to handle.

Furry Paw, Middle Claw by Barry Jackson

love the cover of this book!!!

love the cover of this book!!!

Book Expo America (BEA) is held every year in the massive glass roofed Javits Center in New York City.  Within its walls, publishers, authors, illustrators, librarians, bloggers, teachers, narrators and all forms of book loving folk gather in small and large booths that span numerous floors (I don’t even think I saw them all, and I was there for the whole day!).  Crowds are everywhere and lines the likes of those you would only find at an amusement park form too get advanced readers copies (ARCs) of books.  There are well known publishers and authors and then there are hidden gems…. (shiny jewels scattered about like treasures just waiting to be discovered).

One such treasure is new author, Barry Jackson and Turn The Page Publishing.

Barry Jackson is a wonderful person to meet anywhere, but at BEA, when I met him, he happened to be giving out ARCs of his semi-autobiographical novel, Furry Paw, Middle Claw, which just sweetened the deal that is Mr. Jackson.

In the beginning of Furry Paw, Middle Claw, you are placed right in the middle of Dean Parker’s dysfunctional childhood.  His dad didn’t really like him and instead of teaching him how to trust he taught him how not to trust by having him jump 10 feet down from a barn loft, promising that he would catch him, only to let him (purposefully) fall and explained that THIS was why you don’t trust.

Then during Dean’s college aged experiences you see this lesson his dad taught him start to take effect…  All of this leads up to him meeting Melissa, (who he has a GIANT crush on) and her nasty ol’ cats.  Dean must then learn to trust, and win over the hearts of her cats (or he can try to creatively dispose of them) in order to gain her undivided attention.

Somewhere along the ridiculously funny way, Dean might find that maybe he and the little furry beasts can reside in the same household, loving the same woman, without giving each other the middle claw at each interaction.

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! I read it 3 times in about as many days because I loved it so much and didn’t want to miss anything in this detail rich novel.  The first time I read this book, in school, I COULD NOT put it down (I was scolded quite a lot while reading during class).  THHPPPTTT 😛

If there was such a thing as a shelf higher than the keeper shelf this book would go on it!   I really did find myself looking at the world differently for having read it.  I recommend it to anyone over the age of 12… and then only due to some advanced jokes and lessons that some children might not understand.

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!

Izzy :Z

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Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

Because they said so (what your parents would say:)  Some cursing a single sexy scene (only one or two paragraphs long), I would suggest maybe reading with a parent for ages under 12 due to some adult humor that requires a specific sense of humor.

BRRRRR: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

rocking awesome graphics for a rocking awesome book!!

rocking awesome graphics for a rocking awesome book!!

WARNING:  This book is bloody, bloody stuff, not for the feint of heart or those folks under the age of 13.

Tana is a normal teenage gal;  she’s got guy problems and some well, family issues…..  However, she also has some stuff going on that, well, maybe isn’t so typical.

Stuff like… oh… supernatural undead folks that were infected by a crazy romantic vampire when Tana was six.   Most of the vampires were contained in Coldtowns, located all over the United States… but not all of them.

In the first pages of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Tana is doing normal teenage stuff (partying and drinking) and we find her in the bathroom passed out (okay, not EVERY teenage girl HAS to get drunk, but, you get the idea).   When she finally comes to, she decides to venture out of the bathroom and into the kitchen to get a drink of water.  She passes through the hall and into the kitchen which adjoins the living room.  Nobody stirs, and she assumes everyone is passed out from too much alcohol.

She gets a glass of water then goes to see who is awake.  That’s when she realizes that the girl she thought was asleep on the chair has her eyes open and ragged puncture wounds on her neck.  She finds the same with the rest of the party.  All of the people her age that she has ever known are dead.

Like most teenagers faced with a crisis she decides to take the high road.  She hustles into the bedroom to retrieve her coat and car keys and to get her tukus out of there before the vampires come back, but when she goes into the bedroom she finds two figures tied up, alive!  The first is her ex-boyfriend Aiden, who when he is released tries to bite Tana due to a Vampire infection, the other being she finds is an already turned vampire named Gavriel.

Tana is then faced with a decision, to kill Gavriel and leave Aiden for the vamps or drive to Coldtown, where all of the Vampires are contained,  to drop off Gavriel and Aiden.  Tana can’t bring herself to kill this vampire (he IS kinda’ cute) and so decides on the latter option.

Tana must then drive across the country to the nearest Coldtown, a very dangerous drive with a bloodthirsty infected teen and a vampire that is addicted to blood.

What’s a girl to do?

WOWWWW!!!!   I loved how Tana changed and developed throughout the story.  The book was  really bloody and I can see it being popular among the Twilight Saga fans.  There are no werewolves in this book, or marriages or baby having (like Twilight) but it has several unexpected turns, and Tana’s snarky sense of humor and her confidence grows as the story progresses.  I don’t generally love bloody books, or books with death and violence, but this one’s plot drew me in and kept me turning the pages.  Definitely not a book for bedtime or dark rooms or those of us frightened by things that go bump in the night, but maybe, a good Halloween read for those of the PG-13 crowd.

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.Izzy :Z

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Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

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Because they said so (what your parents would say:)  Really bloody and violent and with some nightmare inducing stuff.  Some sexy-ish parts and drinking and lots of vampire fights and vampire staking’s.  I wouldn’t recommend this to the weak-hearted or anyone under 13…

Magic Marks the Spot

untitledImagine that you lived in a world in which magical artifacts existed.  Now, imagine that said artifacts suddenly went missing and were being held by nasty folks with bad intentions.  What if you OWNED one of those artifacts and it was stolen right out from under your NOSE!?!  You’d be devastated, right?  To find it gone? I know I would be… I might even do anything to get it back.

The main character in Caroline Carlson’s The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot, is Hilary Westfield, a swash buckling, grog swilling, dueling girl pirate who wants nothing more than to enter into the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates (referred to, for the purposes of this review as VNHLP) but finds herself denied because she is a GIRL!!!  Also, I guess it couldn’t have helped that her father is Admiral Westfield, the most anti-pirate admiral around.

Admiral Westfield is very determined to pack his unruly young daughter off to Miss Pimm’s finishing school for delicate ladies, in an attempt to have her be the sort of hoop skirted, gossiping, high society girl that the majority of young misses would delight in becoming.  Hilary, however, will have none of it and repeatedly tries to escape.

One day, when masked robbers levitate a very old treasure map out of Admiral Westfield private study, Hilary sees her chance to get out of Miss Pimm’s and to show the VNHLP that she is perfect pirate material.  It’s possible, however, that on the way she might poke her nose in a few things too big for her to handle alone.  Good thing she has a few trusty sidekicks (doesn’t every girl pirate have trusty sidekicks?).

I really loved this book; its witty dialog and spot on characterization had me cackling in the middle of class (which happened to give away my feeble attempt to conceal my avid book reading during Algebra 1… GAH!!  FOILED!)  This one’s a keeper shelf for sure with a publishing date of 9/13.  A perfect uplifting book full of underdogs and valiant quests.  (Also, it had the added affect of changing my future career choice from President to heroic swashbuckler… ARRRRR…)

Izzy :Z

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Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

.Because they said so (what your parents would say:) nothing, nada, zilch, zip, zero… unless they find your running around the house wearing an eye patch, yelling ARRRRRR and brandishing a pretend cutlass disturbing.

Starry Nights

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

“Starry Nights” is a really wonderful book by author Daisy Whitney, to be published by Bloomsbury USA in September of this year… this is one of those galley copies I was lucky enough to get my hot mitts on at Book Expo America!

Named for the Van Gogh painting, “Starry Nights” takes readers through Paris, France on an adventure full of romance and mystery and drama (and a healthy dose of accurate art history, too!).

I have been to Paris and some of the locations mentioned and reading the detailed artistry describing this city of lights took me right back there!  I could almost SMELL the cinnamon and spice from the crepes at the red awninged street stand.

Julien is a guide in the Musee d’Orsay, (a real museum in Paris, France…)… he also happens to be the son of the art curator.  Julien’s dream is to become a famous artist but describes his art as mediocre at best.  Almost every night he goes to the art museum to look it over and to explore, and every night the art comes alive.

He dances with the Degas.

Degas

Pets the cat from Manet’s Olympia…

Manet's Cat

and slowly and helplessly falls I love with the girl from what might look like Renoir’s Young Girl in the Garden.

Renoir's Young Girl Seated in a Garden

But when all of a sudden all of the Renoirs and other famous ancient paintings start to fade, Julien is forced to realize that this thing he does in the museum is not all together okay, and that his love for the girl in the garden, Clio, is putting the paintings on edge.

This book was A M A Z I N G!!!!  The writing is rich and detailed, its imagery art in itself.  It is not an EASY, QUICK read, but it is an AWESOME one!  Like a really good meal you want to savor and at the same exact time, gobble down like a hungry thing!  If there was any title higher than a keeper shelf, this book would be on it!!!!  Really just amazing!

Daisy Whitney does a wonderful job expressing Julien’s feelings as he falls for a girl that only he can see, and his struggle to find out who he really is….. outside of the paintings!  I have already read this book 3 times in a week and I still can’t quite take in all of the details!!! SK-WEEEEE!!!! I just LOVE books like this!!!

Come September, just in time for start of school, you just MUST get your own copy!  Seriously.  Like… really.

In the meantime, Daisy Whitney has a blog that has some info on her stuff ( like her other books… The Mockingbirds and its sequel The Rivals… which I plan to devour hoard  read super soon) AND if you Facebook, you can “like” her author site there!

Izzy :Z

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

Kissing, a single fistfight, mentions of lustiness, nothing really horrible or scarring.

It has some wonderful history lessons inside of it and references to well know and NOT SO well known pieces of art, and lots of mentions of actual landmarks… (google them all!)

I would say a mature 11 and up.

Marie Antoinette Serial Killer

by Katie Alender.

So, the title aside, this book really wasn’t all that bloody.  If you want the long summery it was a fast paced mystery/ murder/ romance/ YA drama novel.  The short summery…. one word…….  AWESOME!!!!!!!

The author Katie Alender creates a wonderful hook when she starts the book off with a (none too graphic) murder.

Enter, Collette…  a girl with quite a few secrets.  She keeps secrets from her two uber popular, status-crazed friends, (like how she isn’t rich like them).  She also keeps secrets from her mom, like how her dad offered for her to come and live in his penthouse in New York.

She also has an annoying little brother who loves to play pranks on her.  Today he has decided to hide her suitcase, packed full of everything that she needs for her trip, the day before she leaves!!!  The issue for Collette, a girl afraid of the dark and enclosed spaces, is that her brother has decided to put her suitcase in their… basement…. the dank…. dark… small… basement.  But today, Collette is determined to face her fears.  As Collette braves their basement, pulling her stuffed suitcase out of its clutches, she sees a box on top of her suitcase with the name of her father’s grandmother, her grandmother, and her father.  Curiosity takes place of fear as she hurries out with the box and her suitcase, and goes up to her room to root through the contents of the mystery box.

Inside she finds mementos like flyers from nightclubs, cocktail napkins from restaurants, and ticket stubs from Broadway plays….. nothing particularly   interesting.  But just as she is about to put the box down she sees a flat jewelry case.  Inside the luxurious case she finds a GORGEOUS silver medallion, circular with the shape of a flower with 6 spiky petals and a key in the middle.

She knows her father’s side of the family came from France, is it possible that her family has a secret history?  Could she be….. descended from royalty?!?!?!?!

Using wonderful fully developed characters, and eventful plot twists and knots, Alender spins a wild, fastpaced, got you by the seat of your pants, can’t put it down murder mystery, complete with accurate historical basis, and some lesser known facts.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!!!! Keeper shelf for sure!!

Izzy

:Z

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

Because they said so (what your parents would say).  As the title suggests, this story does have several murders, though not put in horrible detail I would just suggest reader discretion.  Some smoochy stuff and cursing, but nothing we school kids haven’t heard on the bus.

The Song of the Quarkbeast or what I read at soccer camp last week…

The Song of the Quarkbeast (Chronicles of Kazam book #2)
by Jasper Fforde
published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Song of the Quarkbeast: The Chronicles of Kazam Book Two

The Song of the Quarkbeast: The Chronicles of Kazam Book Two

Last week I was at soccer camp.  It was pretty intense, but I still found time to sneak in a few books.

On my way out the door, I grabbed two books off of the top of my BEA pyramid, the first, Jasper Fforde’s The Song of the Quarkbeast.

SONG is the second in the Kazam series, and I have to be honest… the first two chapters were pretty slow going for me.

It is COMPLETELY possible that I was just so EXHAUSTED from all of the running and dribbling and shooting and heading and running and um… RUNNING that ANYTHING would have been slow going, but it’s only fair to say that it was.  If I had been at home and had access to my marvelous BEA pyramid, I might have put SONG aside for another in the stack.  THANK GOSH I wasn’t at HOME and THANK GOSH I DIDN’T put it aside because I would have been so totally WRONG!

By the end of the third chapter, I was roped into this magical saga. Really great snarky funny humor and mystery runs all over the pages!  Mr. Fforde does seem to go a little too far, maybe, into detail with the poking fun and silliness, but on the whole, I am SO GLAD I didn’t put it down because I would have missed some clever writing.

The book takes place in and alternate modern universe where all electronics are run on magic and due to the sudden loss in magic all electronic devices have tuned into useless pieces of equipment. Currently there are 2 magic companies, iMagic, and Kazam. Kazam’s assistant manager is named Jennifer Strange, she is a foundling, or an orphan, and the most organized person at Kazam, as well as the most sarcastic (the manager is currently floating around in the universe appearing randomly).  She is basically the agent and the scheduler of the magical deeds that need to be preformed.

One day she gets a call from a client asking her to find a ring for this client’s client. They want the nice people at Kazam to help and find a ring that has been lost for some time. Kazam, thinking that something is fishy, ups the cost to 5,000 Moolah coins for the job (FYI “moolah coins” are the form of currency in this book).

After some minor hiccups and an unfortunate incident where the assistant assistant manager, Tiger, almost gets stuck down a well and squeezed into jelly, they begin to unravel the mystery of the ring and to discover that just MAYBE someone or someTHING doesn’t WANT them to succeed.

Though I don’t know that this book would be one for the keeper shelf,  it would be a fun book club read, or a summer adventure read.   It was really very good and I would recommend it for ages 12 and up.  The book did peak my interest and tickle my sarcastic funny bone enough that I will TOTALLY hunt down the first in the series and wait with twitchy fingers for the next (predicted to be out in early 2014).
READ ON!

Izzy
:Z

OH!

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say...

Because THEY said so or what your parents might say…

Nada, Zilch, nothing remotely horrifying.