Tag: Scholastic Press

Guest Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Posted September 22, 2013 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

The Dream Thieves- Maggie StiefvaterWhitley’s review of The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater.

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

As a novel in its own right, The Dream Thieves was pretty good. As a sequel, it was a disappointment. It felt more like an alternate version of the first book than a true sequel. All the character development got reset, entirely new concepts and people were introduced and became the focus, and stuff from the previous book had very little in the way of repercussions. A few major themes from the first book got straight-up repeated (“the ley line needs to be fixed” is not that different from “the ley line needs to wake up.”)

On the other hand, I did like this book by itself. The plot felt a lot more cohesive and focused than the first, although the writing style still gave it that dreamy, unfocused atmosphere. The author didn’t have to reintroduce all the characters, so we got to skip the chapters and chapters and chapters worth of description and backstory; that helped a lot.

I loved the concepts in this book, the creativity that the author displayed in playing with them. I also loved the low-key feel of it all. This is fantasy, but it’s a very calm fantasy, there’s very little flash-and-bang. The magic is restricted to a few magical things, and it’s treated like something real, like something that may be fantastical but that can still be played with and measured and explored. It was a very practical approach to the fantasy aspect, while still being enormously inventive, and I just love that combination.

That said, the plot did drag on quite a bit. I’m still not a fan of the writing style in this. It’s got too much fluff, too many repeated lines, too much extraneous information. This book never met a tangent it didn’t like, and it uses the same tone on everything, whether it’s a tense moment or an everyday moment. Between all the extra chapters and the lack of variance, this book felt less like a ride and more like a straight highway that goes on forever.

A few more random notes: There was very little Blue in this book, and when she did show up, she wasn’t memorable. She went from a character in her own right in the first book, to a tertiary character in this book.

The Dream Thieves is very Ronan-centric, and Adam gets some spotlight, but Gainsy and Noah might as well not even be there.

Much like the last book, while there are plenty of funny and haunting lines, there’s also a ton that are just…well…

“She made a neat rack of teeth at the Grey Man.” (48%)

If you say so.

There’s a character that does some heavy drug use, and while he is a bad guy, there are no physical consequences show. He does a line of coke, then the scene moves on like nothing’s changed. Casual drugs use is a pet peeve of mine; I feel like if you’re going to write that in, you should at least have the authorial gonads to really show it.

Another pet peeve is that a character uses “feminist” as an insult, and it came right after Blue delivered an extremely feminist-positive argument. But the message she gave gets undercut by the line “wow, you are a raging feminist,” especially since there’s no counterargument and Blue more or less folds after he says it. I know teenagers aren’t always well informed on feminism, but that doesn’t mean we adults have to reinforce the idea that speaking up like Blue did is somehow worthy of being insulted.

So, on the whole, it was a very interesting book, with a lot of really good stuff in it, and only a few things that hit my buttons. I’d still recommend it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Scholastic Press. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman

Posted March 22, 2011 by Ames in Reviews | 6 Comments

Main Character: June Elberg
Love Interest: Wes Anderson
Series: n/a
Author: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads

June and Wes do not “meet cute.” They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever.

This is not that kind of love story.

Instead, they just hang around in each other’s orbits…until eventually they collide. And even after that happens, they’re still not sure where it will go. Especially when June starts to pity-date one of Wes’s friends, and Wes makes some choices that he immediately regrets.

From National Book Award winner Pete Hautman, this is a love story for people not particularly biased toward romance. But it is romantic, in the same way that truth can be romantic and uncertainty can be the biggest certainty of all.

I read this in one sitting, so if you’re up for a light, quick, romantic read, this book is for you.

June’s father is a workout specialist. Not a personal trainer, but a consultant that comes into failing businesses and fixes them. This mean June’s family moves around – a LOT. It’s the beginning of junior year and she’s in Minnesota. She’s become very adept at identifying the stereotypes in high school crowds. There’s that girl that latches onto the new kids in hopes they’ll be her friend, but after about 2 days you realize she’s a stage-5 clinger and then you don’t want to, but you have to ditch her so you don’t become a social pariah. June is good at navigating the social minefield that is high school.

Wes. Wes has lived in the same town his whole life. The biggest thing he’s ever done is broken up with his girlfriend of forever. Something he wonders if he regrets doing it. But he’s just a guy that gets along with lots of people and can call lots of people friend. He notices June first and crosses paths with her a few times. Not enough to turn them into friends, but they don’t run away or avoid the other person.

Things go on in this way during the four months that June is dating Jerry, Wes’ friend. And then one snow stormy day, they run into each other at the supermarket, and after Wes inadvertently gives June a black eye, they share an explosive kiss in June’s kitchen. Which they both decide to act as if it never happened. But that only lasts so long and then these two kids quit denying what they feel and start to tumble into each other.

But all is not well. June’s father is finished what he came to Minnesota to do and now they need to leave to Nebraska. June’s parents always tell her to leave the past behind and to focus on the future, but can June and Wes let go of each other or will that connection between them remain strong?

I enjoyed The Big Crunch. I like the build up to Wes and June’s friendship and when they finally got together I thought they were really cute. But the separation. How was that going to work out? I like the way the author had them dealing with the separation and thought it was realistic enough. The parents actually play a role in this novel, which was different from other YA I’ve read in the past where it’s like these kids are parent-less. Ya know? LOL And yeah the book and writing and characters were enjoyable but the story didn’t go very deep. There wasn’t anything that rocked my world. It’s the fluffy book you read between more meaty tomes, when you need a change of pace. The Big Crunch was a good between-books book. Nothing earth shattering, but not bad. I’m giving the Big Crunch a B-.

For all my Moms out there, I’d give this book a rating of:

..and that’s your scoop!

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Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com


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Review: Next Summer by Hailey Abbott.

Posted October 6, 2010 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Main Characters: Beth, Kesli and Ella Tuttle
Series: Summer Boys Series, Book 2

Things are heating up again. Can you handle it?

The SUMMER BOYS girls are back on the beach for another dose of sizzling drama. Can soul mates Beth and George maintain their long-distance love affair, even while another boy is catching Beth’s eye? Will reformed bad girl Ella REALLY be able to change her wild ways? And can shy, smart Kelsi open herself up to love again after she’s had her heart broken? And what’s happening with Jamie on her summer writing program? Find out all this–and much more–in this sexy sequel.

Here’s the second book in the Summer Boys series by Hailey Abbott. I was curious to see how different (meaning better) this book would be compared to the first book which I enjoyed but didn’t exactly love. My problems in the first book (which you can read here) was the crap that Ella did and then the crap that Jamie did. Both of those girls were totally immature and they just got on my nerves. What’s funny is that in the first book, Beth was my favorite but in this book, it was Beth that I wanted to choke.

In the first book, we meet Beth and we see her fall for her best friend George. George was so great. You can see that he had some big time feelings for Beth but because he didn’t want to change the dynamic of their friendship unless it was something that Beth wanted as well, you couldn’t help but fall madly in love with him. We couldn’t and neither could Beth. Beth fell super hard for George and by the end of the summer, they got it right. The good thing about Beth and George’s summer lovin’ is that it didn’t end when summer was finished. They got to take their love home and nourish and strengthen it. So when the next summer comes and they’re both still going mighty strong, you just know that more cuteness was on its way, right?


George couldn’t go to Pebble Beach with the Tuttles because he had to work and Beth is not happy about that. While George is thinking about their future (and when I say future, I mean next school year and when Beth comes back, not happily ever after married kind of future), Beth is pouting because she’ll be all by herself this summer.

Umm, no you won’t because Ella and Kelsi will be there with you. Duh. But anyway, Beth starts the book off annoying me and as the story progressed, she continued to annoy me.

Then there’s Ella, Ella’s still carrying the secret of sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend last summer with her and a part of me is surprised that she hasn’t come clean about it with Kelsi but whatever. So they head up to Pebble Beach both swearing off boys for the summer. Ella wants the real thing while Kelsi is still smarting from last summer’s heart break that she doesn’t want to go through all of that again.

So they get to Pebble Beach and the drama begins.

Kelsi meets a guy named Tim and right off the bat, she’s judging him and being such a snob to him that I want Tim to find someone else because Kelsi was being a straight up b word for no apparent reason other than that she knows he’s a player and doesn’t want to give him the time a day (insert eye roll here).

Ella meets an undercover hottie who doesn’t know he’s hot but she does and she wants to make a move on him so that he can be her summer hottie and is confused when he totally rebuffs her and leaves her wondering, WTF?

Then there’s Beth. While at the beach, she meets a guy named Adam who she hits it off with. They become fast friends and because you know that things can’t just be like that between a girl and a boy, things get complicated fast between the two of these guys. It’s in this storyline that I’m disappointed in Beth because what she’s doing will not just hurt George but it’s going to hurt Adam too and the way she handled everything had me shaking my head because if you supposedly love someone…you don’t do anything that will hurt them and…she does.

The crap hits the fan when Kelsi finds out about Ella and Peter from last summer and while I was thinking, “FINALLY” I felt bad for Ella because yeah, she was sorry for it but I couldn’t help but take Kelsi and Beth’s side because what she did was pretty horrible. But as bad as I felt for Ella, I still didn’t want Kelsi to end up with Tim because she was such a b word to him and I wanted her to be all alone and learn her lesson about judging people without knowing a hot dang thing about them.

The whole thing in this book is everyone messes up and everyone deserved to be punished but I didn’t feel like any of these Tuttle girls were punished. Sure, they cried and were punks to each other but I didn’t feel that any of them were truly remorseful enough to get the easy make ups that they got.

After I finished the book, I shook my head. I don’t think I’ll be finishing this series because well, I don’t like these Tuttle girls. They’re immature little girls that play with boys feelings and in the end, get away with everything. Not my kind of folks. I can’t exactly say I hated this book but I didn’t love it either. So I’m giving it a C.

…and that’s your scoop,

Buy the book: B&N|Borders|Amazon|The Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com

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Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Posted September 15, 2010 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Main Characters: Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, Gale Hawthorne
Series: The Hunger Games series, Book 3

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

This is it.

This is the final book in The Hunger Games series and I’m still not so sure I loved it as much as everyone else did. I liked it well enough but did I love it? Not really. I knew that the revolution was going to take over Katniss’ life and I knew in my heart of hearts who she was going to choose and even with all of that, I somehow felt let down.

I’m not saying that it was a bad book, I’m actually not even sure what I’m trying to say. All I know is that when I put the book down, I didn’t have that satisfied feeling in the pit of my stomach that I usually have when I enjoy a book so much that I want to shout my love for the book from the rooftops. That was missing.
I’m going to take a page out of Mollie’s book and hide my review as I’m just not going to be able to review this book without spoiling it for everyone that hasn’t read it yet so if you’re not scared of spoilers or if you’re feeling brave, go ahead and highlight my review and read it for yourself. If you don’t want spoilers then come back when you’ve read it and read my review. Maybe we can discuss, whatever you want. =)

I guess the crux of my problem with this book is that even though I wanted Katniss to end up with Peeta, the way that her relationship with Gale stopped left a bad taste in my mouth. The whole thing with Gale’s bomb being the bomb that killed Prim pissed me off (even if it wasn’t the bomb that he personally worked on, it was still his bomb). Why did that have to be the way that Katniss and Gale ended? It was like a cop out. She didn’t have to make a decision between Gale and Peeta because she holds Gale responsible for killing her sister. Easy peasy, the big decision was taken away from Katniss because how could she possibly be with Gale after Prim died? It kind of diminished her love for Peeta to me. It made what Haymitch said about her never being good enough for Peeta that much more true. Peeta deserved so much more than a bomb deciding his fate with Katniss. I know it was much deeper but no matter how you paint it, I wasn’t completely convinced that she chose Peeta.

There was so much crammed into this book that it was hard not to get caught up in it. I don’t feel like anything in the book was rushed as it felt like it was a long time coming. From Katniss agreeing to be the Mockingjay to Peeta’s torture and then finding out about how District 13 was run. Some other things that I didn’t understand about Gale was his belief that living in District 13 was going to be so much better than in District 12 under the rule of the Capitol. Right from the jump, I didn’t care for Coin and as the book wore on, it became more clear. She’s not good. She’s no better than President Snow. Yeah, there weren’t any Hunger Games but she ruled with an iron fist and if you didn’t fall in line with her vision then you were punished.

When we came across Katniss’ prep team from the Capitol and how Coin treated them, it made me realize that it was only a matter of time before Coin turned District 13 into her little playground and I was glad that Katniss picked up on that (if her cool facade whenever she was around was any indication) and even though Katniss wasn’t the one that killed President Snow, I was glad for the way that he did die. He died at the hands of everyone who’s life he ruined and I thought it was fitting. I’m also glad that Katniss was the one that ended Coin. That seemed fitting too since Coin’s plan was to off Katniss first chance she got. I cheered for Katniss because I was so happy!

Katniss was a totally different Katniss in this book but I understood why. She was stressed and rightly so because so many people were depending on her to lead this revolution and it was a lot to lay at the door of a 17 year old girl. There’s much to admire about Katniss Everdeen. When the rough got going, she stuck and she never strayed from doing what she thought was right. It was not hard to understand why Peeta was so in love with her.

If anyone was going to die, I wish it would have been Katniss’ Mom and not Finnick and Prim. I loved the both of them and was sad to see them go. Finnick had finally found the happiness he was seeking with Annie and I was glad for the both of them and Prim was so young, so young and a great sister to Katniss. I enjoyed the talks that both Prim and Katniss shared in this book. It showed just how much Prim had changed and grown since Katniss’ first trip to the Hunger Games. She was so wise beyond her years and I hated Snow for robbing her youth from her. It sucked when she died.

In the end, things ended the way that they were supposed to and Katniss ended up with who she was supposed to end up but it still seemed off because well, because of Gale. But as disappointed as I was in this book, I still enjoyed it and I’m glad that I read it.

Would I recommend it? Of course, you have to read how this series end. You’ll fall in love with these characters a little more and you’ll rejoice, cry and your heart will hurt but in the end, you’ll close the book and be glad that you know what happened.

Buy the book: B&N|Borders|Amazon|The Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com/

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Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

Posted September 8, 2010 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Main Characters: Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark
Series: The Hunger Games series, Book 2

Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with Peeta Mellark. But it had been a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion.
Where do I start with this book? I read this book and I kept right on reading until I was completely finished with it. I ate this book up! It was like riding on an emotional roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. My emotions were up, down and went round and round. I knew that the drama was going to keep right on coming and Collins sure didn’t disappoint.

In this book, Katniss and Peeta are living their new lives as winners of the Hunger Games. They both live in Victor Village where their only neighbor is …Haymitch. They have everything they could ever want and they’re not afraid to share the wealth around. Katniss still hunts for game to help Gale and his family out since Gale now has to work in the mines, six days a week. She also makes it a point to spend money in town so that she can do her little part in sharing the wealth she acquired from winning The Hunger Games.

Just when things are starting to settle into a pattern that works for Katniss, she gets a surprise visit from none other than President Snow and that visit sets off the rest of the adventure in this story.

It is in this book that I totally became a Katniss fan. I mean, I liked her well enough in The Hunger Games but it wasn’t until this book that I became an actual fan. In The Hunger Games, I felt her pain at being such a young girl and having to take on the caring of your entire family. She’s only 16 in that book and yet she’s got a lot of burdens to shoulder all by herself so that her younger sister, Prim can have what she needs to have to live. This isn’t easy when you don’t have a family bakery always supplying the food in your belly or any other kind of family business. It’s easy to get good and pissed off at a government that would allow this to happen. While they’re living their lavish lifestyles in the Capitol, getting everything they need from the other districts..you’re sitting at home, trying to ration your food to last you the entire week because the only way that you can keep food in your bellies without having a job is by taking a tesserae but if you do that then your name goes into the lottery for The Hunger Games more times. Meaning, you have more chances of going into the Hunger Games by doing this.

It really sucks to be Katniss, right?

In this book, Katniss is thrown right back into a big ol’ pot of SUCKNESS. Things can’t just be easy for Katniss, she just has to keep playing the puppet to those bastards up at the Capitol and it’s no wonder she hates the Capitol so much. Things are made even murkier because she’s got all of this other stuff going on back at home. Like her and Gale’s complicated relationship. This is where the love triangle really takes place because in the first book, Gale isn’t in the book as much and even though he’s not in a huge chunk of this, his presence is felt.

It was in this book that my love for Peeta was sorely tested because I loved Gale too. I loved Gale and I also though that Gale and Katniss made sense. There’s history there and there’s a mutual love that they have for one another. Nobody knows Katniss the way that Gale does, nobody gets her the way that Gale does …until Peeta comes back into the picture. With Katniss and Peeta back in action together, it’s hard not to fall in love with the two of them.

Usually when the heroine of a book says things like this,

“Gale is mine. I am his. Anything else is unthinkable.”

…I get annoyed but in this case, I didn’t. In this book, I got a little worried for Peeta because I kept thinking, “Dammit Peeta, how the hell are you going to compete with this?” I wasn’t sure that he could and I’m kind of mad at Collins for making me doubt my love for Peeta. Just kidding (not really). LOL!

There’s no doubt about it, this is my favorite book in the series. I loved watching the story unfold some more in this one. I loved getting to know Gale more, I loved getting to know Peeta and Katniss more and I adored getting to know Finnick. I was such a skank because for part of the book I was Team Peeta, other parts of the book I was Team Gale and then a huge chunk of it, I was Team Finnick. Finnick was the bomb!

Especially in scenes like this:

Really, the combination of the scabs and the ointment looks hideous. I can’t help enjoying his distress.

“Poor Finnick. Is this the first time in your life you haven’t looked pretty?” I say.

“It must be. The sensation’s completely new. How have you managed it all these years?” he asks.

“Just avoid mirrors. You’ll forget about it,” I say.

“Not if I keep looking at you,” he says.”

Finnick was the bomb. I loved getting to know him, I loved all of the excitement he brought to the story. I kept wondering, can we trust this fool or what? I’m glad that we could because I would have hated to have been deceived by him.

This book brings more adventure and more action and I ate it all up. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the first book and in the end, my love for one boy was signed, sealed and delivered because among so many things, he said this speech that moved me to tears.

“…I don’t want you forgetting how different our circumstaces are. If you die, and I live, there’s no life for me at all back in District Twelve. You’re my whole life.” Peeta says. “I would never be happy again. It’s different for you. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard. But there are other people who’d make your life worth living.”

“No one really needs me,” he says, and there’s no selfpity in his voice. It’s true his family doesn’t need him. They will mourn him, as will a handfull of friends. But they will get on…. I realise only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.

“I do,” I say. “I need you.”


Oh Peeta. How can you not love this guy?

If you haven’t read this book then you must fix that soon because this book is great entertainment. Suzanne Collins has penned a series that is well written, exciting and will pull at your heart strings. You won’t want to miss out on this series and this book is just another great adventure with a cast of charming characters that you’ll want to hold close to your heart.

Pick it up, you won’t be sorry.

Reading Order:

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Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com

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