YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for the ‘silver star’ Category

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
Publication Date: 29 September 2011
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (4/5 stars)

Synopsis: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Review: Hi everyone, I know it has been far too long since I last reviewed but this time I am determined to review one book every day from now till January 2012! All the books I will be reviewing will be books I enjoyed and strongly recommend. 🙂 Now, on with the review!

Maureen Johnson, best known for her 13 Little Blue Envelopes series and Suite Scarlett (which I adored), has written a paranormal novel quite unlike any other. Rory was an awesome protagonist, full of wit and easily relatable. She was an American teenager from Louisiana and this year she was going to study at a London boarding school. But shortly after arriving in London, the “Rippermania” starts. It was very interesting seeing the “Rippermania” take place in modern day London. Johnson’s writing is very descriptive so I actually felt as though I was transported to London and was interacting with the characters. Oh and when I say descriptive, I mean Johnson was not shy of details. She describes the murders well but not in an overly gory way.

Now where does the paranormal part come in? Well let’s just say there will be some ghostbusting done. 😉 The romance was well-played but it was not the focal point of the novel. The good news is this book is part of a series so we will be seeing more of the characters!

Overall The Name of the Star had me frantically flipping pages towards the end and the ending was nicely done. I won’t recommend reading this book at night because that night I finished the book and was walking home, I turned around every five minutes to make sure I wasn’t being followed. True story! The Name of the Star also had me searching online about the original Jack the Ripper murders. I wonder why the Ripper murders suddenly stopped and what really happened to the original Jack the Ripper. Now that’s a discussion for another day. Until then, check out The Name of the Star if you want something paranormal but are tired of vampires, werewolves and faeries.

Here are what others are saying:

“Johnson fearlessly takes readers from . . . a cool innocent-abroad-with-iPod story to supernatural thriller. The tension ramps up exquisitely among cups of tea, library visits and the London Underground. The explosive ending is genuinely terrifying but never loses the wit, verve and humor that Rory carries with her throughout.” – Kirkus

“Readers looking for nonstop fun, action, and a little gore have come to the right place.” – Publishers Weekly

“A gorgeously written, chilling, atmospheric thriller. The streets of London have never been so sinister or so romantic.” – Cassandra Clare, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series


I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (book & movie review)

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: August 1st 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (4/5 stars)
Synopsis: In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.


Book Review: Since I Am Number Four has been recently released as a movie, I took this opportunity to review both the movie and the book. I’ll be reviewing the book first and skip ahead if you want to read the movie review.

At first glance one would assume I Am Number Four is just another cheesy teenage paranormal romance but surprisingly I wound up liking it. The story revolves around John Smith, an alien from the planet of Lorien. There were nine of them and they have to be killed in order of their numbers. Number three had just died and John is next. So John and his guardian, Henri, move to Ohio. He thought he could go unnoticed but little did he know he would catch the eye of Sarah and making an enemy on the first day.

Lore did a fantastic job of pacing the story and I practically tore through the novel. I loved John’s character and despite rolling my eyes at the cliché romance, I thought Sarah and John were a good match for each other.

Unlike other supernatural books, usually it is the love interest who finds out the main character’s secret. But this time round, it was someone else. The secondary characters were quite well done and all had a part to play in the climax. The character development was fantastic; seeing the character’s transform from the first page to the last was truly eye opening.

Overall, I recommend I Am Number Four and seeing how the protagonist is a guy, I think teenage guys will enjoy this novel too. Hand this book over to any Twilight fan and you will find them nose-deep in it within seconds.

Movie review: The beginning started out very cleverly, and left us wanting more. However I felt halfway throughout the movie things start to fizzle out a little. The presence of Mogadorians gave the audience an idea of who was tracking the aliens. Every time they appeared on screen, it left me with a chill down my spine.

The movie was not entirely action packed. Don’t go to the cinema expecting a flick with fighting and major action every few minutes. The movie was quite mild until the last 45 minutes when the battle started. It was also at the end when we are introduced to Number Six and personally I hated how the trailer revealed who the mysterious motorcycle riding girl was.

While I am a total fan of Alex Pettyfer, I didn’t think that he was his best in the movie. I thought he was so much more good looking in Wild Child (starring Emma Roberts). And also, what is with everyone saying he should also be Peeta Mellark and Jace Wayland? For goodness sake, give some other actor a chance! It’s so hard to one guy playing three different guys in three different YA novels. It’s just ruins the image. You know what I mean? It’s like how people can’t imagine Daniel Radcliffe playing someone other than Harry Potter. Can you imagine Dan playing John Smith? No! That’s exactly what I mean. It was strange seeing Dianna Agron play someone else but I thought she pulled off pretty well. Every time Sarah and John locked eyes, I swear, I saw sparks flying every where.

In conclusion I Am Number Four the movie was good but the book was better than the movie. Still, it’s worth watching. I mean… hey you get to see Alex shirtless! 😉

3.5/5 stars for the movie

Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe

Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: August 30th 2010
Buy it from: Amazon (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.5/5 stars)
Synopsis: Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher?

No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening…

But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine?

With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way.

But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own.

Girl Saves Boy is a hugely talented debut novel, funny and sad, silly and wise. It’s a story of life, death, love… and garden gnomes.

Review: When I first heard about this book, I was impressed to find out that Bowe was only sixteen years old. Bowe is a sixteen year old Australian writer and Girl Saves Boy is her debut novel. It was published by Text Publishing in Australia & New Zealand, but I think it’ll be making it’s way over to the States soon.

First off, I loved how the book was centered around Jewel and Sacha are both flawed characters (have I mentioned how much I loved characters who are not perfect?) who found each other. I found myself able to relate to both characters to a certain extent. Sacha’s early chapters were truly heartbreaking and so were Jewel’s. However, much to my dismay, there were too many subplots and even at the end, some issues were not entirely resolved. The vague abrupt ending was also very disappointing. If you want a book to have a sad ending, then let it have a sad ending. Vice versa. Don’t leave the readers to imagine the ending for themselves. It’s frustrating! Also, Sacha and Jewel’s romance seemed to escalate very quickly in a week and it was rather unbelievable. I wished the romance had been given more time to be developed. The secondary characters were also quite bland. Sad to say, there was nothing very distinct about each character.

But the best thing about this book would be the writing. The writing is not fluffy, like the pink cover suggests, instead it’s realistic but sometimes a little depressing. However, that does not deter one from enjoying the book. The prose is quite similar to Jandy Nelson’s if you are wondering. There were several fabulous scenes in the novel where Bowe’s writing shone and I particularly enjoyed the one were Sacha and his friend rescued the lobster from the Chinese restaurant.

In the end, I didn’t enjoy Girl Saves Boy as much as I would have liked but it still kept me hooked onto for ages. Sadly it was a number of issues that prevented me from really loving it. At times funny, at times painful, Girl Saves Boy is a story of two teenagers and their journey to self-discovery.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 26th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (3.85/5 stars)

Synopsis: “I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is the ultimate Christmastime read. Seeing that today is Christmas (happy Christmas everyone!), I thought I would do a review of a book related to Christmastime. Now, on with my review.

The story alternates between Dash’s (written by Levithan) and Lily’s (written by Cohn) perspectives. Dash is anti-Christmas and pages told from his POV are usually laced with snarky humor while Lily enjoys Christmas and her pages often have an abundance of capital letters and exclamation marks. Dash finds a red notebook at the stores and before you know it, they are both doing a series of hilarious, spontaneous dares throughout New York, each of them experiencing something they like/dislike during Christmastime. From department stores to wax museums, this book will make you feel as if you were in New York City right that moment. What a treat!

However, I did feel a bit overwhelmed at times when the characters seemed to be having one million thoughts running through their mind. It can be very irritating. That was a similar issue I had with Cohn’s and Levithan’s previous collaboration, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. The secondary characters were also not as developed as I would have liked them to be but I did enjoy reading scenes with Great-aunt Ida.

Overall, I adored this fabulous Christmas novel and I definitely loved it way more than Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. So sit down with a cup of eggnog, or caramel apple cider, or whatever your favorite Christmas beverage is, and read this fun, delightful and meaningful novel. Happy holidays everyone!

One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 6th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.5/5 stars)
Synopsis: Eliza is in a full-blown panic. Her notebook has been stolen—the one that lists everything she wants but is afraid to go after. And the absolute worst person in the world has it: her ex-boyfriend, Cooper.

Like it’s not enough Cooper was lying to Eliza for their entire relationship, now he and his friends are blackmailing her. They’re giving her just one night to complete the most humiliating tasks on her list or they’ll post her secrets online—including the ones that aren’t just about her.

Eliza’s sure of only one thing: she isn’t going down without a fight. Cooper may have what’s left of her dignity, but she’s not the only one with something to hide …

Review: If you are looking for a milder version of Nick and Norah’s Playlist (i.e. minus the f bombs) One Night That Changes Everything is the one for you. I loved following Eliza around the town as she ran around trying to complete the dares with her ex-boyfriend mysteriously appearing when she needed help.

Being a short read, I finished One Night That Changes Everything very quickly but I went back to reread some of my favorite scenes. This is the type of book that makes you feel ‘fearless’ after reading it. It makes me want to walk into a coffee shop, grab the mike and start doing karaoke without a moment of hesitation. One Night That Changes Everything grabbed me from the very first page. Readers will be eager to see the ex-couple reunite. Admit it. We all knew they’ll eventually get together but still, seeing them finally come to their senses was an utter delight. Although I loved the book, I had some problems with it as well. Eliza’s friends were not good friends. They ditched her when she needed them the most which I found that highly unbelievable and unrealistic. I don’t want to spoil anything but I did not like Eliza’s friends and ironically enough, I was fond of Cooper.

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed this novel although the ending was predictable and some secondary characters were unrealistic and not fully fleshed-out. I’m sorry this reviews is super short and not my usual length but I can’t say more without giving away the plot and I’m writing this at midnight. 😛

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: April 13th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3/5 stars)
Synopsis: Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

Review: After reading two of McDonald’s novels, I now know that I can count on McDonald to write a funny, entertaining chick-lit book. Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots was full of awesome elements and admittedly, the title is quite a mouthful. But nevertheless, a title with boys and bears definitely caught my eye.

I loved how the book was set in Canada, just the thought of Canada makes me picture brown bears and maple syrup. The novel had a promising start and I loved the first half of the book. One word to describe it? Fun! While the story was engaging, it was not always exciting and the story dragged for me at times. There was a lot of dialogue in the book so it feel as though there was non stop talking throughout the novel. The main character, Jenna, was not very consistent. She seemed so certain that she was a huge environmental activist but she went against some of her believes. Not only that, I felt as though she was telling the reader she cared about nature but not actually showing she cared about nature.

The downside of the book was that the supporting characters were not as strong and at times, very annoying. Take for example, Olivia. There was something about her that irritated me from the start and I’m sorry but I just did not like her. But as the novel progressed, I grew to love Ethan, Reeve and Fiona. They transformed from cardboard characters to something more by the end.

Overall, good premise, fun story but weak characters. For picky readers, I’d say proceed with caution. But for those who want something not too serious, this is for you.

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: July 13th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3/5 stars)
Synopsis: His love captivated her… his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

Review: While I’m totally keen on the book, I am not a fan of the tagline. “His love captivated her… his secrets might kill her.” Really? This forbidden love stuff is getting old. That aside, I loved where the book was set in. Massachusetts; a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now. The beginning was absorbing and creepily atmospheric and I adored the lush and vivid descriptions of the setting.

I have a confession to make: I thought Zach and Phe’s relationship progressed way to fast — to the extent that it was unbelievable. Their instant attraction and her dreams were not clearly explained and that frustrated me. Perhaps Hopcus is saving it for the sequel but the book would have been better if they were explained. The romance never pulled me in and I did not find myself rooting for these characters. At the beginning Zach was alright and I quite like him but as the story progressed and no explanation was provided, I began to find myself ticked by their interactions. While we were told that Zach was a hunk and absolutely droolworthy, I did not see past his exterior. I need a guy who has more than just good looks.

One thing that irked me the most about Shadows Hills was the lack of a concrete plot. While I saw Hopcus put effort into building up the world and the storyline, it fizzled out before the actual climax was reached. We are provided information about the town’s history every now and then but it was never fully explained. Some parts were agonizingly slow while the action scenes were short and fast. Character development was not well established and characters like Zach, Corrine and Trent were more not well fleshed out. The villains were cardboard characters and annoyingly predictable.

As much as I would like to say that I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to everyone, I won’t. Perhaps it’s just me, so give Shadows Hills a try if you enjoyed The Hollow, Twilight, Evermore and The Dark Divine. Picky readers, like me, probably would not enjoy this book as much. However, it was a good attempt and I’d love to read more of Hopcus’s works. In summary, Shadow Hills had a lot of potential but the ending ended up being cheesy and clichéd.

Sidenote: After reading the book, I still don’t understand the cover. Blah, not a fan of the cover.